South Sudan makes special plea to US delegation over sanctions

South Sudan makes special plea to US delegation over sanctions
Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

South Sudan has asked the United States to lift the sanctions and the arms embargo imposed on the country.

The request came up during a meeting between the government officials and a US delegation in Juba on Saturday. It was aimed at mending the ties between the two countries.

US-South Sudan diplomatic relations have been on a downward surge since the 2013 civil war.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, told The City in an exclusive interview that the overall purpose of the visist by the US delegation was to “improve ties between Juba and Washington and to discuss ways that the US can support South Sudan.

According to Barnaba, the delegation had asked the government about sanctions and how it could assist South Sudan to get a relief by having the restrictions quashed.

“We want the arms embargo to be lifted and America to concentrate on assistance in development, like in capacity building and humanitarian,’’ he said.

“These are the areas where the interaction and conversation are concentrated on but above all is once more to back that smoothens the relationship we used to have during our days of struggle,” Barnaba told City Review.

He described this visit as a sincere gesture of goodwill because it offered an opportunity for the Congress team to learn more about how the peace agreement is being implemented so that they could inform their government back home on the particulars of the trip.

“They have come here to share with us how they can be able to help clean up the image of the Republic of Sudan, both the government and the people of South Sudan once again.”

“So this conversation is out of old friends who have been disappointed with one another on issues of sanctions, arms embargo, how they can help so that sanctions can be lifted, so arms embargo can be canceled and also to bring into the path of friendship, solidarity once more between the government of South Sudan and the administration of the United States,” said Dr. Barnaba.

The delegation included representatives from ordinary Americans, six Republican members of Congress and former members of Congress, five Democrats, businessmen, and former generals, including General Scott Gration.

‘Relationship with happy past’

Barnaba was nostalgic as he acknowledged the assistance that the US government provided to the South Sudanese people from the start of the liberation movement until their independence. He cited the Nimule-Juba road as an actual fruit of the relationship, claiming that it was built with American funding.

However, the minister said the fallout came after the 2013 war came up. The then US President Barrack Obama got infuriated after those entrusted with maintaining peace turned into spoilers.

“The Americans and most of our friends in the United States became disappointed and, therefore, resulted in some of the decisions we believe that this is not the way to treat a friend.” They actually spearheaded sanctions, individual sanctions as well as embargos in the Republic of South Sudan, “he lamented.

Congressman Mark Siljander, who is visiting South Sudan for the second time in 2022, argued that they had come to seek coordination as partners to create an environment in which US officials would contribute to development.

“We believe it can change for the better if we have a better environment, and we are not just coming with words, but with specific suggestions and action points that will help create an environment where sanctions, embargos, and other issues would fall away if the right environment is created, so that is why we are here not just to talk.”

“We have to learn to be partners together and establish this environment for long-term peace and stability within South Sudan but our partnership because we were with you in the beginning. When you were seeking your own freedom and independence, the United States was with you. So what we have right now is quite low, but we want to change that low into enthusiasm, hope, and partnership. “

Chris Shays, a former congressman who served in Congress for 21 years and in the State legislature for 15 years, revealed that their intention is to push their country to move ahead in resolving sanctions.

“We don’t like coming here and seeing people in such need that they are not getting it and we know the sanctions are helping. So, ultimately, we want those sanctions gone, “said the US former congressman.

Dr. Barnaba and the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro, both revealed that the US delegation had also given the government indexing questions and received a response from the ministers.

The ministers who attended the meeting included the ministers of information, finance, petroleum, peace building, interior, presidential affairs, justice, and wildlife as well as the governor of the central bank.

The officials were asked were asked to give an account of where the government wants South Sudan to be in the next five years in terms of the economy and justice. The other question was about what specific help the country wants that is a challenge to the government.

According to Lomoro, it had been decided that specific meetings of one or two ministers will be held in order to discuss certain issues with the delegation.

“So the US delegation is extremely shocked with the clear response with focus on what we need in the next five years. So we had a good meeting and also the President rounded it up by focusing on what we need to do and what Quest has to do”

General Scott Gration, who also serves as the head of the US delegation, said they have learnt a lot from the discussions of the ministers, which he believes can be turned into actionable projects for the benefit of South Sudan.

“It was a fruitful meeting. We had the opportunity to listen to the issues, the statements and opinions of the ministers, and we found them very enlightening. Each one of them had a perspective, which is useful, and it was wonderful to be able to listen”

 The UN Security Council passed Resolution 2206 on the situations in Sudan and South Sudan on March 3, 2015. Resolution 2206 emphasizes that the South Sudanese government bears the primary responsibility for protecting its people from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.

Following the wars of 2013 and 2016, the US sanctioned several government officials, including Vice President Taban Gai, Dr. Martin Elia Lomoro, and Government Spokesperson Michael Makuei, for allegedly obstructing peace in the country. Military generals from both the government and the opposition were also sanctioned including business men.