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US to impose visa restrictions on ‘corrupt’ individuals in South Sudan

Authors: Chany Ninrew | Emmanuel J. Akile | Published: Thursday, March 14, 2024

US Department of State. (Photo: Courtesy).

The United States government announced plans to impose visa restrictions on “multiple” South Sudanese individuals allegedly involved in corruption that fuels conflict in the country.

“Today, we are announcing steps to impose visa restrictions on multiple individuals in South Sudan for undermining or impeding a sustainable peace by engaging in corruption that fuels conflict in South Sudan,” the US Department of State said on its website.

The individuals who are yet to be named, will not be able to acquire visa to the United States and their families may be subjected to such restrictions.

The visa restrictions are being imposed under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act.

Washington is doubling down on targeting South Sudanese persons with punitive measures in what it says is an effort to combat corruption and strengthen rule of law in South Sudan.

It underscores that South Sudan remains a precariously fragile state beset by insecurity and poverty, nearly thirteen years after declaring its independence.

“The nation’s leaders continually fail to exhibit the political will necessary to create the conditions for sustainable peace, democratic governance, the rule of law, and prosperity for the South Sudanese people,” read the statement.

The statement noted that the visa restrictions are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the South Sudanese people or the Government of South Sudan.

“The decision to pursue visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support South Sudanese aspirations to combat corruption, strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and live in peace,” it said.

Biden administration also said the unity government in South Sudan is yet to demonstrate the political will to establish a conducive environment for free and fair elections as scheduled, in December 2024.

It further said leaders of all parties share responsibility for “this failure and for the elite capture” of the nation’s riches, at the expense of the country’s peace and the general wellbeing.

“Widespread corruption perpetuates the suffering and, directly and indirectly, supports conflict, thereby undermining the progress South Sudanese envisioned when they declared statehood.”

“The United States remains committed to supporting the South Sudanese peoples’ long unmet expectations for peace, democracy, human rights, and a government that uses public resources for the common good,” it added.

Vice President for Economic Cluster, Dr. James Wani Igga said the country’s ranking among the most corrupt nations in the world has affected investment.

“Our country ranks among the highest in the corruption perception index, unfortunately in the whole world, this has implications on investment itself,” said during a workshop on investment in Juba.

Dr. Igga made the remarks during the opening of a validation workshop on one-stop shop guidelines and investment opportunities’ mapping in Juba on Tuesday.

“Don’t think that when you steal something it will not affect investment, no it has a serious implication on investment. Corruption affects not only our internal investment but also the FDI, the foreign direct investment into our country.”

He called for reforms in the country’s anti-corruption policies to identify and address the root cause of corruption practices.

“Current Anti-corruption policies implemented in South Sudan targeted at enforcement measures rather than addressing the root causes.”

“The root causes of corruption can be identified to include social insecurity and inadequate decentralization of our resources.”

South Sudan was ranked as the second most corrupt country in the world along with Syria and Venezuela as Somalia tops the list, according to Transparency International’s 2023 corruption index.

The country stood at 177th out of 180 countries after scoring 13, out of a scale of 100, while Somalia scored 11 and plunges to the bottom of the list for the second year in a row.

South Sudan has remained in that position for the last two years, after beating Somalia as the most corrupt in 2021.

 

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