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US seeks vote on South Sudan arms embargo, targets Kiir and Malong

United Nations, United States | AFP |

The United States on Monday stepped up its drive to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, saying it will soon ask the Security Council to vote on the proposed ban.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to back the US call to cut off the weapons flow during a meeting later Monday on the crisis in South Sudan, where the devastating war has entered its fourth year.

The United States last month presented a draft resolution on imposing an arms embargo following UN warnings that the war-torn country could descend into genocide.

An annex to the proposed resolution would also put South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar, army chief Paul Malong and Information Minister Michael Makuei on a sanctions blacklist.

“We are going to need to vote this resolution and countries are going to need to raise their hands and decide where they stand on issues of life-and-death as it relates to the people of South Sudan,” said US Ambassador Samantha Power.

“It’s extremely important to vote this by the end of the year,” she added.

France and Britain support an arms embargo, which could come up for a vote as early as Thursday, according to diplomats.

But veto powers Russia and China have voiced opposition, while non-permanent council member Japan, which has sent peacekeepers to South Sudan, is also balking at the proposal.

The three countries argue that banning the arms trade with Juba would antagonize President Salva Kiir’s government and put peacekeepers’ lives at risk in a conflict already marked by horrific levels of brutality.

The US-drafted text calls for a one-year ban on all sales of arms, weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment.

The world’s youngest nation, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and more than 2.5 million people displaced.

The country won independence from Sudan in 2011 with strong support from the United States.

Ban last week harshly criticized South Sudan’s leaders ahead of the vote, saying they had “betrayed their people’s trust and squandered a peace agreement.”

The outgoing UN chief urged the council to take stronger action “including through punitive measures.”

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