Sanctions against South Sudan should be well thought out

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[Nairobi, Kenya, TCT] Reports in the Star newspaper in Kenya indicate that Kenyan legislators have threatened to impose sanctions on some individuals in South Sudan for promoting violence rather than using dialogue to resolve political disputes in the country.
This is happening in the wake of renewed hostilities between government forces and some armed groups in the country, which has seen tens killed, some injured, and hundreds of civilians displaced.
In response to this threat of sanctions, Kenya’s former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka, who was instrumental in negotiations that led to the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Omar Al Bashir and the late Dr. John Garang, has said Kenya should not impose sanctions unilaterally.
He says imposing of sanctions should be done within the framework of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which has been a major player in the South Sudan peace process, right from the time of Dr. Garang to the most recent peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa between President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar, last year.
While expressing his understanding of the frustrations that the Kenyan legislators are experiencing because of the influx of refugees in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, which houses many refugees from South Sudan, Kalonzo’s opinion is that matters of sanctions should be done in cosnulation with other stakeholders in the South Sudan conflict.
This week, some churches in Kenya have sent appeal among their members for donations of clothes, foodstuff and Bibles for refugees who are streaming into the refugee camp in northern Kenya in huge numbers (some estimates say 500,000 South Sudanese have entered the camp since August).

Threats of sanctions
On his part, former vice President Dr. Machar has said that he would be sending a delegation to Kenya to present his side of the story, saying that the Kenyan legislators did not have the correct position on what was happening in South Sudan. The government of President Kiir has not responded to these threats of sanctions.
Dr. Machar’s position is debatable, because even the government side has its own side of the story.
However, it is important that if Kenya or any other county wants to impose sanctions, it should be done in a way that will not end up derailing any peace initiatives that are taking place in the countr. At the same time, any actions that are taken with regard to the South Sudan situation should not be seen to be rewarding those who practice impunity, those who perpetrate violence expecting to gain power through violence.
Already, stakeholders under the umbrella of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) are proposing alternative sources of ending the conflict, like neutral forums, which bring together stakeholders in a less politically-charged atmosphere, and reconciliation based on the Christian value of forgiveness.
Without any doubt, the situation in the country is so delicate and we do not claim that finding a solution will be easy. However, any actions by internal or external players, however well-meaning, should not work against grassroots efforts for peace. Sanctions should be well-thought out because they will definitely have an impact on any peace building processes in the country.


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