WASHINGTON – The United States should continue to hold individuals responsible for gross human rights violations and those thwarting the peace process accountable through the imposition of targeted sanctions, a South Sudanese activist said.
Addressing the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington on Wednesday, Peter Biar Ajak said such individuals should include the Director-General of the country’s National Security Service (NSS), General Akol Koor Kuc and his top cronies.
“The U.S. should also push the African Union to urgently set up the Hybrid Court on South Sudan to end the culture of impunity,” he said.
Biar, once detained by the country’s national security service, accused President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar of imposing themselves on the people of South Sudan for too long.
“Despite the severe repression in the country, our people made this unequivocally clear in the recently concluded South Sudan National Dialogue, demanding that Kiir and Machar urgently find an exit route from the political scene,” he told the Committee.
The activist urged the U.S, working together with the African Union, the United Nations, and others must demand that Kiir holds election by March 2022 since “people can no longer endure his awful rule”.
Holding elections, the outspoken activist further explained, would require specific tasks to be completed such as the promulgation of a new constitution, the merger of various militias into a national army, the appointment of new Elections Commissioners, the conducting of the census, and the updating of the voter registry.
“However, given Kiir’s reluctance to implement the peace deal, it is unlikely that any of these enormous tasks would be accomplished on time,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the activist said the U.S needs to send a clear message to Kiir that his repression of South Sudan’s people will not be tolerated anymore and further delay of elections is unacceptable.
He further urged the UN Security Council to “explicitly” reject President Kiir’s move to postpone the elections, saying any decision of the nature must comply fully with the 2018 peace agreement.
“Failing to hold him [Kiir] accountable next week will enable Kiir to extend the tenure of his already illegitimate regime beyond what is specified in the Agreement,” stressed the activists.
He added, “This could very well spark large-scale violence with devastating consequences for our people and the Horn of Africa”.
Biar urged the U.S. to continue supporting civil society groups, church groups, community-based organizations, and women and youth coalitions working hard to build consensus among people.