WASHINGTON – Exiled South Sudanese opposition leader and peace activist Peter Biar Ajak has urged the United States and other Western countries to impose sanctions on President Salva Kiir Mayardit and senior officials of the country’s National Security Service (NSS).
Biar, who is the leader of Revive South Sudan Party (RSSP) made this plea in an opinion article published by the Time on Thursday.
Biar emphasized the significant investment made by the U.S. in humanitarian aid and South Sudan’s political transition, stating that abandoning South Sudan would essentially hand the nation’s future to anti-democratic adversaries like Russia and China, both of which have strengthened ties with Kiir’s regime.
While acknowledging that the U.S. has begun to distance itself from South Sudan due to mismanagement of natural resources, Biar argued that such measures have not brought about the new beginning desired by millions of South Sudanese.
“In the absence of U.S. engagement, Kiir has sought new alliances that match his authoritarian and kleptocratic style,” Biar wrote.
“After failing to secure a direct meeting with President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the 2023 U.N. General Assembly, Kiir snubbed a meeting with junior U.S. officials, and visited Moscow in October 2023, where Vladimir Putin welcomed him and the two agreed to deepen ties across a range of issues,” he added.
Highlighting Kiir’s prolonged power struggle with Riek Machar and the stifling of press freedom, Biar questioned the feasibility of free and fair elections in December 2024.
He called on the global community, especially those involved in South Sudan’s creation, to support the South Sudanese people.
Biar urged the U.S. to take a more active role by imposing sanctions against Kiir and senior NSS officials involved in human rights violations.
He suggested that Washington demand and support the conduct of free and credible elections while serving as a vocal watchdog.
“The U.S., in particular, can get off the sidelines and impose sanctions against Kiir and senior NSS officials involved in human rights violations,” he said.
“Rather than allow Kiir to continue to subvert the democratic aspirations of South Sudanese people, Washington can demand and support the conduct of free and credible elections and serve as a vocal watchdog,” he added.
Biar further called for increased funding and support to democratic opposition figures and movements, proposing that the U.S. Congress hold hearings on Kiir’s human rights record and the return on America’s investment in democratization efforts in South Sudan.