Go to court if you wish, US dares sanctioned South Sudan leaders

Go to court if you wish, US dares sanctioned South Sudan leaders
David Renz, outgoing Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy in South Sudan speaking to journalists on Thursday at the Embassy in Juba during a pressing conference [Photo by Keji Janefer]

Outgoing US Chargé d’Affaires in South Sudan has urged government officials under the US sanctions to file a lawsuit challenging the restrictions if they feel unfairly targeted.

Speaking at a press conference at Juba’s US embassy, Mr David Renz said the Washington administration was ready to be part of the litigation if the South Sudanese officials facing sanctions took the matter to court.

Renz defended the restrictions while cleverly blaming African leaders under such sanctions for failing to heed calls for accountability.

The diplomat added, “many of the individual sanctions that we have on people in this country are for actively working towards the implementation of peace”.

“Some of those people in government are not very happy with it. That’s a tool we always look at whether it can be used effectively going forward but more importantly, we are looking at public financial management area because that is an area where the government is sensitive towards access to funding.”

On the sanction and possible legal action, Mr Renz said, “we are a nation of law. We believe on rule of law and we abide by that.’’  

“So if Dr Martin Lomuro (Cabinet Affairs Minister) or Michael Makuei (Information Minister) or any of the other individuals who are under US sanction want to go in court with the US to challenge those sanctions, by all means, please do so that is why we have courts.” Go to courts to report to courts [because] governments make mistakes. If we made mistakes [then] go to court and prove your case and we will abide by the result”.

Since the beginning of the political conflict in South Sudan, the US has sanctioned several government officials, including army generals accused of war crimes against civilians during the conflict and some businessmen accused of facilitating the transfer of public funds to other countries using their accounts.

Dr Martin Elia Lomuro, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Michael Makuei, Minister of Information and Government Spokesperson was sanctioned in 2019 under President Donald Trump’s administration. The two were accused of fuelling the conflict in South Sudan, an allegation the two leaders have rubbished as falsehood.

Vow to take action

However, Dr Lomuro had revealed plans to file another lawsuit against the Trump administration.

He claimed that his sanction had earned him a terrible reputation and that he was ready to meet those hurdles and triumph.

“I will take the US to the international court of law and no one should threaten me. I know who I am nobody has some riffraff’s around threatening me no”

“I have community and I can’t be ashamed in front of [them]. My community has a history of liberation and there is no history in the Pugulu community where a leader has been accused of theft. I am the chairman of the community and I must maintain that standard and I will take on anybody including the US believe me,” Lomuro said, as he seethed in anger.

The Minister said he had the confidence in winning the case in the Kenyan anti-corruption court, adding that this would take precedence for other South Sudanese battling cases beyond borders.

A group of government officials have backed Dr. Lomuro demanding that the Kenyan Asset Recovery Agency compensates him for the damages caused by the money-laundering case.

Speaking at the celebration of Dr. Lomuro’s triumph over the court case last year at his residence in Juba, Lainya County Commissioner Emmanuel Kenyi Richard called on the lawyers who defended him to submit another affirmation to demand damages caused to the reputation of Dr. Lomuro.

Kenyi expressed his delight with the Kenyan high court’s decision, which he said highlighted the Cabinet Minister’s honesty, and asked Dr. Lomuro to keep up the good work.

“This must send a very clear sign to all the leaders of South Sudan who are victims of this conspiracy must come forward like Dr. Martin because you are said to be corrupt while you are not corrupt,” he stressed.

Onyoti Adigo, the Minister of Animal Resources and Fisheries, who also joint Dr.Lomuro to celebrate his victory indicated that any action was taken against Dr. Lomuro as the government’s “first minister” has an impact on South Sudan.

The money-laundering allegations by Asset Recovery Agency and the US government sanctions on his colleague Dr. Lomuro, according to Adigo, were a conspiracy against the government of South Sudan.

According to him, conspiracies tend to weaken the country’s sovereignty.

“We know South Sudan has so many enemies but it is good that legally the people who are conspiring against South Sudan and Martin, in particular, have been exposed,” Adigo said.

“We will never, never, never surrender to anybody and we will continue to fight our enemies as a member of the United Nations, as a member of the African Union, and as a member of the regional communities. So it was a big shame when the court has given verdict in favour of Martin and South Sudan,” he emphasized.