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U.S. threatens sanctions to curb violence in South Sudan

- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 3, 2014

President Obama on Thursday signed an executive order giving his administration power to impose economic sanctions on those deemed responsible for ongoing violence in South Sudan.

The order does not apply to the government of South Sudan — the world's youngest nation, having just been formed in 2011 — but rather government officials and rebel leaders contributing to the ongoing bloodshed.

It states that "all property and interests in property that are in the United States … are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn or otherwise dealt in."

But the document does not name specific individuals subject to those punishments. Instead, it gives Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry authority to determine who should be targeted.

It's the administration's latest attempt to de-escalate the situation in South Sudan, where rebel fighters loyal to former vice president Riek Machar continue to clash with government forces under the control of President Salva Kiir.

"Thousands have been killed. Nearly one million innocent civilians have been driven from their homes. Despite a ceasefire agreement, the cycle of violence and conflict continues," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The United States will not stand by as those entrusted with South Sudan's future put their own interests above those of their people … they must end military actions and hold accountable those responsible for violence against civilians. The people of South Sudan are calling for peace. There is no room for excuses or delay."

The order comes on the heels of similar measures taken against Russian and Ukrainian officials, as the U.S. and its allies try to use economic pressure to stop Russian Vladimir Putin's troops from advancing further into Ukraine.

In that instance, however, the U.S. and its European partners quickly named the individuals targeted.

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