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South Sudan Disappointed US Did Not Consult It on Sanctions

South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, right, welcomes US Secretary of State John Kerry at Juba International Airport, Friday May 2, 2014. On Tuesday, the United States imposed sanctions on two South Sudanese military leaders, one from each side of the conflict.
South Sudan's Foreign Affairs Minister said Wednesday he was disappointed that the United States did not advise government officials in Juba of its plans to impose sanctions on two officials accused of stoking violence in the young country.

"We thought, at least, with the good relationship between the United States and the Republic of South Sudan, at least there should have been sharing of ideas on some of these characters that have been named,” Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told South Sudan in Focus.

"We would have wished that the leadership of this country – because this is an elected democratic government – should have been kept in the light," he said.

Marial said he was only formally informed of the sanctions against Presidential Guard Commander Marial Chanuong and opposition military leader Peter Gadet by U.S. Ambassador Susan Page on Wednesday morning -- hours after they were announced in Washington.

The United States accused the two of “being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan.”

Marial said the South Sudanese government was under the impression that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had promised to go through regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating peace talks for South Sudan, to impose sanctions.

He said the South Sudan government is prepared to take any reasonable steps the international community proposes to achieve peace in South Sudan, including observing a month of tranquility, which the two sides agreed to on Monday.

The month-long truce, which is aimed at allowing humanitarian organizations to reach people in conflict areas, farmers to sow crops and cattle herders to tend to their cattle, took effect Wednesday. In its first few hours, it appeared to be holding.

The government has also given its full backing to a meeting between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar. Kerry first pushed for the meeting during a visit to Juba last week. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and IGAD have said is due to go ahead Friday.

Kiir "will be glad to meet Riek Machar if that meeting will push forward the IGAD peace process, because what we want in South Sudan is peace, not war,” Marial said.