WASHINGTON - The European Union (EU) is joining the United States and imposing sanctions on officials in South Sudan who it says have "major responsibility for the violence in the country," a top EU official said Thursday.
"The EU will be imposing targeted sanctions on two military leaders," Nick Westcott, the managing director for Africa of the EU's diplomatic corps, told South Sudan in Focus by phone from Brussels.
"The sanctions comprise a visa ban to prevent them traveling to the European Union, and an asset freeze on any funds or finances they may have in the European Union," Westcott said.
The names of the two military officials who will be sanctioned will be released Friday, Westcott said.
The two were targeted by the EU because they were deemed to "have major responsibility for the recent violence in the country ... are spoiling the peace process, breaching ceasefire agreements and responsible for serious human rights abuses," Westcott said.
Two months after U.S. sanctions
The EU move comes just two months after the United States imposed targeted sanctions on Marial Chanuong, a government military commander, and Peter Gadet, a military official loyal to opposition leader Riek Machar.
Westcott said the EU has lost patience with both sides of the conflict in South Sudan.
With an estimated 10,000 people killed in the fighting in South Sudan and 1.5 million displaced by the fighting in South Sudan, Westcott said, "We could not wait any longer."
"We have given the leaders time to try to reach an agreement and implement a ceasefire and come to talks. They are not doing so," he said.
"We said from the start -- if they cannot reach a peaceful agreement, we will take action to target those who are responsible," Westcott said.
He warned that the targeted sanctions were only a first step. "Unless the talks resume within the deadline set, unless they are substantive negotiations that include all the parties concerned and are aimed at implementing the ceasefire and finding a political solution, we will take further steps," he said.