South Sudan: EU sanctions Peter Gadet, Santino Deng
- 11 July 2014
- From the section Africa
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.
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.
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
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.