The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on South Sudanese First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement, in Washington’s latest move to pressure the country’s politicians to form a unity government.
The Treasury Department said Gai reportedly arranged and directed the alleged killings of opposition politician Aggrey Idri Ezibon and human rights lawyer Dong Samuel Luak in a move to solidify his position in the government and intimidate members of the opposition.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement calling on the government and opposition leaders to create distance from those who spoil the peace process. He said Gai, on behalf of Kiir, acted to “divide and sow distrust, extend the conflict in South Sudan, and impede the reconciliation and peace process.”
Gai could not immediately be reached for comment. A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.