The South Sudanese vice president placed under sanctions by the United States government for human rights abuses insisted on Thursday that he has been wrongfully accused.
The targeted sanctions against Taban Deng Gai were announced earlier this week by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury, and follow similar sanctions against five others implicated in the disappearance and deaths of human rights lawyer Samuel Dong Luak and SPLM-IO member Aggrey Idry. The two went missing in Nairobi in January 2017. The U.S. also accuses Deng of sabotaging the peace process in South Sudan.
“Since the September 2018 agreement, which included a permanent ceasefire, hundreds of civilians have been killed, raped, and abducted, including in clashes in December 2019,” the U.S. added. “More than 50,000 civilians have fled their homes as a result of the violence, according to the UN. “
Yet Deng says the accusations are baseless and unfounded.
“My life has always been dedicated to the building of a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan,” he said in a statement. “Since 2011 when South Sudan became independent until now in 2020, my commitment towards peace and unity has only grown stronger.”
Deng said his commitment is the reason he still serves as South Sudan’s first vice president, though implementation of the peace deal between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar has stalled. The U.S. said there has been no progress since the last extension approved on November 12.
“The U.S. Government will not hesitate to target those who have perpetuated the conflict in South Sudan and will continue to apply pressure on the senior leadership of South Sudan to take concrete measures to bring peace and stability to the country,” they added.
Image: Pachodo file