US Congress Urges Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to Sanction South Sudanese Warlords

Fredrick Ngugi May 31, 2017
South Sudan's former vice-president and now a rebel leader Riek Machar in exile. Time

Earlier this month, a group of bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress came together to request the Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on known South Sudanese warlords.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Treasury Department, the lawmakers urged Mnuchin to play a leading role in utilizing the full range of financial tools at the United States’ disposal to target the corrupt and kleptocratic networks at the center of the ongoing civil war in South Sudan.

“As members of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan, we look forward to working with the Trump Administration to implement a strong, effective strategy toward South Sudan that includes the development of real leverage over the country’s warring leaders in order to more effectively promote peace and reconciliation,” the letter read in part.

Make the War Costlier Than Peace

In the letter, the Members of Congress expressed their disappointment at the prolonged process of finding a lasting solution to the deadly war in South Sudan.

They boldly pointed out how some South Sudanese leaders have been looting state resources and committing mass atrocities against civilians without any form of accountability.

They accused both the South Sudanese government and rebel forces of being directly responsible not only for the civilian deaths that are being reported every day, but also for the current famine.

“By raiding cattle and agricultural areas, they [armed forces] stymie agricultural production and impoverish entire communities while simultaneously restricting humanitarian organizations’ access to those facing starvation,” the lawmakers complained.

Even though the United States has been spending billions of dollars to support peacekeeping forces and life-saving humanitarian assistance in the world’s youngest nation, numerous peace processes have failed to break the cycle of violence, mainly because leaders of the two warring factions have been reluctant to end the war.

The Members of Congress therefore requested the Treasury Secretary to make war costlier than peace by stemming illicit financial flows to the corrupt leaders and fully utilizing anti-money laundering laws and targeted sanctions against high level individuals and their business networks.

Stern Measures against Warlords

The letter, which was signed by nine Members of Congress, outlined a number of specific actions that the Treasury should take against those responsible for the war in South Sudan.

Firstly, they want the Treasury to deny specific individuals and entities in S. Sudan, and their foreign facilitators, access to the international financial system by designating them for targeted sanctions.

Then they want to see the Treasury using anti-money laundering measures to make it difficult for war profiteers to use the international banking system.

Finally, they hope Mr. Mnuchin will robustly enforce both anti-money laundering provisions and targeted sanctions through active investigation and diplomatic engagement with banks not only in the United States, but also in Europe and in the countries surrounding South Sudan, such as Kenya and Uganda.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: June 19, 2018


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