JUBA, South Sudan – The U.N. sanctions imposed on South Sudanese generals are not likely to help the peace process, some analysts said Thursday.
The Security Council on Wednesday imposed travel bans and asset freezes on six generals from both the government and rebel sides, including the commander of the presidential guard and the second-in-command of rebel forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar.
But the sanctions do not touch Kiir or Machar, former political allies who fell out amid a power struggle within South Sudan's ruling party.
"If the sanctions are meant to encourage the spoilers to be serious for peace, and to warn them that not doing so has a price or punishment, then they should target the right people," said Lam Akol, a prominent opposition figure here.
South Sudanese peace activist Rev. James Ninrew echoed similar sentiments, saying the targeted generals — three on each side — are financially protected by their superiors and don't often travel abroad.
Fighting broke out in the world's newest nation in December 2013 after Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused Machar, an ethnic Nuer, of trying to oust him in a coup. That sparked months of ethnic attacks and the violence has continued despite several cease-fires.
The U.N. sanctions are "ill-timed and ill-conceived" and could disrupt a new attempt at negotiations, said the Brussels-based International Crisis Group on Thursday.
"They will not build greater support for an improved peace process," the group said.
Fighting has escalated recently, with the government on the offensive in Unity state and rebels launching attacks in Upper Nile state.
The international community has urged Kiir and Machar to put aside their personal ambitions and reach a political settlement.