Russia Weighs UN Arms Embargo On South Sudan

Russia on Thursday said it needs more time to study a draft UN resolution on imposing an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan if President Salva Kiir refuses to sign a peace deal.

The United States presented the draft resolution to the Security Council late Wednesday, hoping to schedule a quick vote, possibly as early as Friday.

But Russia's Deputy Ambassador Petr Iliichev said "it's a complex draft. We need time to think about it."

The draft text would impose an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on individuals deemed responsible for the failure of the latest effort to end the 20-month war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

Rebel chief Riek Machar met a Monday deadline to sign the power-sharing agreement, but Kiir only initialed part of it and said he would return to the table in early September to finalize the accord.

According to the State Department, Kiir told US Secretary of State John Kerry that he planned to sign the deal.

Russia and China, both veto-wielding powers in the 15-member council, have expressed reservations about resorting to sanctions to turn up the pressure on the warring sides in South Sudan.

Iliichev noted that UN sanctions imposed on six generals last month had prompted two commanders to break away from the rebel forces, complicating the situation on the ground.

"Instead of helping the peace process, we have another obstacle," he told AFP.

"We should be very careful about those radicals hanging around Kiir and Machar and how they are going to react," he said.

The Russian envoy said the United States had yet to circulate a new list of names to be added to the UN blacklist.

The draft resolution calls for a travel ban and assets freeze to come into effect from September 6 against "individuals, including the senior political leaders of the government of South Sudan, as well as individuals or entities that violate the terms of the ceasefire."

The international arms embargo would also go into effect on September 6.

But both measures will be scrapped if Kiir signs the peace deal by September 1 and all sides implement a ceasefire, according to the draft.

The world's youngest nation, South Sudan has been torn by fighting between forces loyal to Kiir and rebels allied with Machar, his former deputy, since December 2013 and the violence has imploded along ethnic lines.

Nearly 70 percent of the country's population facing food shortages and some 200,000 terrified civilians are sheltering in UN bases.

(By: AFP)
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