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Report claims South Sudan leaders lining own pockets

US report says both sides in civil war looted country's resources

Report claims South Sudan leaders lining own pockets

By Parach Mach

JUBA, South Sudan

A report purporting to reveal widespread corruption among the leadership on both sides of South Sudan’s civil war was criticized in the country Monday for not going far enough.

An investigation by The Sentry, a U.S.-based investigation body co-founded by Hollywood actor George Clooney, reported evidence that the political and military elite in South Sudan had enriched themselves during the 2013 to 2015 civil war.

The report accused President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, as well as senior generals, of using the oil-rich country’s wealth to pay for luxury properties as well as fund the conflict.

“They're stealing the money to fund their militias to attack and kill one another,” Clooney said at a news conference in Washington. “We can either take action or we can spend the next decade mopping up the mess.”

The report added: “The leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties manipulate and exploit ethnic divisions in order to drum up support for a conflict that serves the interests only of the top leaders of these two kleptocratic networks.

“The war has been hell for all South Sudanese but very lucrative for its leaders.”

Jok Madut Jok, executive director at the Juba-based Sudd Institute, said the report should not have focused solely on the civil war period.

“Why does it focus on the two-and-a-half years of the conflict, trying to link corruption to the war effort and supposedly revealing warmongers and encouraging peace?” he said.

“Very little about it has anything to do with getting the money back or stopping the war. Yes, naming the beneficiaries of war would be great but then what, travel bans?

“Have we not tried this before and realized that some of these guys don't ever travel abroad anyway? What the report has not done is to say anything about the 2005 to 2012 period when more money was stolen.

“What's the point in catching the tail alone and leaving the head that is visibly exposed?”

Brig. Lul Ruai Koang, a spokesman for Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army, accused the report’s authors of “negative propaganda”.

He said he was unaware of the report but added: “I’m not surprised because there is an international negative campaign against the leadership of this country, both the military and the political.

“It’s a continuation of the negative propaganda they have been spearheading.”

The conflict between government forces and Machar’s militia began when the two men fell out in December 2013.

Fought largely on ethnic lines between Kiir’s Dinka community and the Nuer loyal to Machar, it saw tens of thousands of people killed and 2.4 million displaced before a peace deal in August last year.

However, fighting flared again in July and Machar, who had joined Kiir’s unity government as vice president, fled the country.

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