UNITED NATIONS- The United States circulated on Thursday to the 15-member United Nations Security Council a draft resolution to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and further targeted sanctions amid warnings by a senior UN official of possible genocide.
Political rivalry between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, led to civil war in 2013 that has often followed ethnic lines. The pair signed a shaky peace deal last year, but fighting has continued and Machar fled the country in July.
Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, last week visited South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
"I saw all the signs that ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians could evolve into genocide if something is not done now to stop it. I urge the Security Council and member states of the region to be united and to take action," Dieng told the council.
"There is a strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines with a potential for genocide. I do not say that lightly," he said, urging the council to impose an arms embargo.
Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, told the council that Dieng's warning should serve as a wake-up call. "None of us can say we did not see it coming," Power said.
The U.N. Security Council has long-threatened to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, but veto powers Russia and China are skeptical whether such a move would make a difference as the country is already awash with weapons.