The United States of America has announced its decision to impose sanctions on two South Sudan ministers for allegedly obstructing plans by the government and international bodies to broker peace in the country.
Both ministers were accused of 'obstructing the young country's peace efforts despite promises to form a unity government.'
The sanctions are against two top ministers in President Kiir's government; Defense Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk and Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro have both been accused of obstructing the peace deal and subsequently sanctioned by the United States.
Cabinet Affairs Minister, Martin Elia Lomuro was accused of actively recruiting and organizing local militias to conduct attacks against opposition forces in South Sudan.
While Defense Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk was accused of failing to remove military forces from the battlefield as agreed and overseeing training of the tribal militia.
Following the sanction on both Kuol Manyang Juuk and Martin Elia Lomuro, the United States government will freeze all their assets in the United States and also ban them from stepping foot in America.
The sanctions "are intended to target senior leaders in South Sudan that have perpetuated the conflict for their own personal enrichment, leading to much suffering for the South Sudanese people," the Treasury Department said in a statement.
The action is the latest by the United States -- a key supporter of the largely Christian nation's independence in 2011 from Arab- and Muslim-dominated Sudan -- to show impatience over a leadership battle that has fuelled fighting that has killed nearly 400,000 people.
Under a peace deal, President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar had agreed to form a government by last month, but African mediators gave them a 100-day delay, the second such extension.
The United States is concerned that the Unity Government agreement in South Sudan is yet to take effect as planned and have accused the two ministers of working underground to destabilize the agreement.
More than 30 days into the extended period, the United States said it has "yet to see concrete steps" by South Sudan to create the conditions to form a unity government and fully implement the peace accord.
Martin Elia Lomuro "has been responsible for actively recruiting and organizing local militias to conduct attacks against opposition forces in South Sudan," the Treasury Department said.
For his part, the defence minister "has failed to remove military forces from the battlefield as agreed, fomented violence with rival tribes, and oversaw the training of tribal militias to prepare for the possibility of renewed violence," it said.
According to reports, the current conflict in South Sudan has displaced more four million people - one-third of the country's total population.
The United States has also recalled its ambassador for consultations but has indicated it will not curb its roughly $1 billion in annual aid to the country, which mostly goes to food and other humanitarian needs.
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Header Image Credit: AKUOT CHOL [AFP]