Africa

South Sudan: EU sanctions Peter Gadet, Santino Deng

  • 11 July 2014
  • From the section Africa
Peter Gadet in 2011
Image caption Peter Gadet defected from the army and joined Riek Machar's rebels

The European Union has imposed sanctions on two South Sudanese military leaders for breaking ceasefire agreements.

It accused rebel chief Peter Gadet and army commander Santino Deng of links to atrocities over the past six months.

Both men are subject to a travel ban and asset freeze.

Thousands of people have died in the fighting that erupted between different factions of South Sudan's governing party.

More than a million people have fled their homes since a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, escalated into ethnic violence.

'Unacceptable'

Image copyright AFP
Image caption South Sudan had little to celebrate when it officially marked its third year of independence on Wednesday

Gen Gadet defected from the South Sudanese army and joined Mr Machar's rebels shortly after fighting broke out in December 2013.

Both men are ethnic Nuers.

Analysis: James Copnall, South Sudan analyst

These sanctions are a sign of growing international frustration with the continuing violence in South Sudan.

The government and the rebels have committed to a ceasefire, but neither has respected this commitment. The talks in Addis Ababa are also floundering, and are currently adjourned.

Both sides have signed up to find an agreement, within the next month, on the form an interim government would take. It is looking increasingly likely that this deadline will not be met.

So the EU sanctions are intended to send a strong signal to both President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

The clear threat is that higher-ranking figures could be next.

The EU's continued arms embargo - with the suggestion that this be adopted by the UN too - is also significant.

As the government has more money than the rebels, it is more able to buy weapons. This is why the rebels have already reacted positively to the EU's announcement.

Gen Gadet is accused of leading the attack on the oil hub of Bentiu in April, in which some 200 civilians were killed, despite a ceasefire agreement.

"Peter Gadet is thus responsible for fuelling the cycle of violence, thus obstructing the political process in South Sudan, and for serious human rights violations," the EU said in its official journal.

During the capture of Bentiu, non-Nuers were singled out and killed, according to the UN.

The rebels broadcast messages on local radio stations, calling for members of President Kiir's Dinka community to be killed and women raped, the UN said.

Mr Machar has previously denied that his forces were responsible for the slaughter.

Image caption Civilians were killed in a mosque, hospital and food warehouse in Bentiu, the UN said

Who is Peter Gadet?

  • Defected from and rejoined SPLA rebels several times during Sudan's long civil war, before South Sudan's independence
  • Believed to be a business partner of rebel leader Riek Machar
  • Led forces accused of killing some 200 civilians after capture of Bentiu in April
  • The US has also imposed sanctions on him

Profile: Peter Gadet

Rape and murder in Bentiu

Mr Deng led the recapture of Bentiu, and so also broke the ceasefire, according to the EU.

President Kiir's spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny rejected the sanctions on Mr Deng, saying they could be a "setback to the peace talks", reports the Reuters news agency.

"There is no government in the world where the army won't fight when someone wanted to overthrow the constitution," he told Reuters.

The sanctions were announced on Thursday but did not take effect until Friday, when the names of the two were released.

The EU said the rapid resumption of talks leading to a formation of a transitional unity government was the only way for South Sudan - which marked its third anniversary of independence this week - to be spared "further violence and famine".

Some four million people face the risk of starvation in South Sudan because of the conflict, according to aid agencies.

Image caption Fighting erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in December 2013. It followed a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar. The squabble has taken on an ethnic dimension as politicians' political bases are often ethnic.
Image caption Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.
Image caption Both Sudan and the South are reliant on oil revenue, which accounts for 98% of South Sudan's budget. They have fiercely disagreed over how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state - at one time production was shutdown for more than a year. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north.
Image caption The two Sudans are very different geographically. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.
Image caption After gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan is the world's newest country - and one of its poorest. Figures from 2010 show some 69% of households now have access to clean water - up from 48% in 2006. However, just 2% of households have water on the premises.
Image caption Just 29% of children attend primary school in South Sudan - however, this is also an improvement on the 16% recorded in 2006. About 32% of primary-age boys attend, while just 25% of girls do. Overall, 64% of children who begin primary school reach the last grade.
Image caption Almost 28% of children under the age of five in South Sudan are moderately or severely underweight. This compares with the 33% recorded in 2006. Unity state has the highest proportion of children suffering malnourishment (46%), while Central Equatoria has the lowest (17%).

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