Rooney bill would impose arms embargo, targeted sanctions in response to South Sudan civil war

Thomas Rooney

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in introducing legislation on Tuesday that would impose an arms embargo and sanctions in response to South Sudan’s civil war.

The Halt Arms and Promote Peace in South Sudan Act, H.R. 5996, would immediately prohibit defense items from being exported to South Sudan, and would impose sanctions on individuals involved in human rights violations there.

“The time for an arms embargo in South Sudan was yesterday,” Rooney, a co-chairman of the South Sudan Caucus, said. “The situation has become dire, with reports of violence on a daily basis. It is up to the United States of America to use its strength as the world super power to put an end to this. The people of South Sudan need the leadership of the international community to bring peace to their country and stop the senseless and brutal violence.”

More than 50,000 South Sudanese and 59 aid workers have been killed since civil war erupted in the country in Dec. 2013. Violent clashes involving tanks, helicopter gunships and heavy weaponry have continued since a peace agreement was signed in Aug. 2015.

In addition to instituting an arms embargo and imposing targeted sanctions, the Halt Arms and Promote Peace in South Sudan Act would lay the groundwork for a recovery and reconstruction program to help the country rebuild after 180 days of ceasefire.

U.S. Reps. Mike Capuano (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) joined Rooney in introducing the bill.

“It’s clear that South Sudan’s political leaders don’t plan to live up to their obligations under last year’s peace agreement, so it’s time to dial up the pressure,” Engel said. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bill which would lead to real consequences if attacks against civilians and recruitment of children in South Sudan continue. I’m grateful to Congressman Rooney for his hard work on this legislation, and I hope Congress acts on this measure soon.”

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