U.S. Sanctions on South Sudanese Leaders Linked to Peace Process: Church Officials Reflect

Representation of sanctions
Credit: Public Domain

Sanctions on South Sudanese political leaders in recent times are part of the process of ensuring peace in the world’s youngest nation, Catholic Church officials working under the Conference of Bishops have told ACI Africa in interviews.

Speaking about the latest U.S. sanction on South Sudan’s First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai, the Justice and Peace Coordinator at the Juba-based South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat (SSCBC) Jim Long John Rombek has described the move as “a pursuit of justice.”

“This sanction sounds like a pursuit of justice because we are a member of the UN and we are a family of all nations,” Mr. Rombek told ACI Africa Correspondent in Juba Friday, January 10 referencing his country’s membership to the family of United Nations.

He emphasised, “America is a member of the UN; we are a member of the UN and I think the convention matters here very much. Maybe sanctions have been observed from this perspective.”

“The idea of the sanction is that there are peace spoilers in the country because it is an individual sanction and not the whole country,” the South Sudanese Church official said and added, “As a citizen and for sure there is a good reason for that sanction and if it can bring peace to the country, I would prefer it.”

In an attempt to justify the move by the U.S. government, Mr. Rombek said, “Diplomacy matters here; maybe America is trying to see how they can work with South Sudan in terms of diplomacy and these are attempts in trying to collaborate to help the country.”

He advocated for tolerance saying, “We have to tolerate because at times, sanctions of such nature may affect the diplomacy of the country whereby if those people are in the government, shortcomings of so many things may arise, but tolerance matters here very much because we are aspiring for peace.”

He appealed to those who have been sanctioned, “If you feel that you have done wrong and you are guilty of what you have done, I think you better correct yourself.”

On his part, the Church and Parliamentary liaison Officer at the Juba-based SSCBC, Isaac Kenyi challenged the sanctioned government officials to reflect about their past actions aware that issues in South Sudan are a concern to the international community.

“They should start reflecting because the international community is tired, and particularly diplomatic friends of South Sudan are tired of South Sudan’s issues,” Mr. Kenyi told ACI Africa in reference to various government personalities that have been sanctioned in recent times.

On December 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two South Sudanese Government officials, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro and the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs, Kuol Manyang Juuk on accusation of obstructing the peace process.

Mr. Kenyi reiterated and probed, “They have to reflect, are they really doing the right thing or not doing the right thing. Do they have the political will to end this fight or they do not? Are they just playing games or not? Are they doing the delaying tactics?” Kungur queried.   

“I think the sanctions came as a result of intransigencies of our leadership not to implement the agreement,” he reflected and added, “sanctions are now coming as pressure on the government, on the individuals in South Sudan to see to it that there is no way they can get away with it.”

For Mr. Kenyi, sanctions are “a pressure from the international community on the leadership of South Sudan to implement the agreement.”

The deadline to the formation of a unity government in South Sudan is into the last full month after the main parties in conflict agreed to extend, for the second time, their resolution to include opposition leaders in the South Sudan governance structure as stipulated in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]