Dr Lomuro draws US in legal tussle as lawyers file case

Dr Lomuro draws US in legal tussle as lawyers file case
Minister of Cabinet Affairs Dr Martin Elia Lomuro. [Photo: Courtesy]

The Minister of Cabinet Affairs Dr Martin Elia Lomuro has revealed his lawyers in Scotland and Britain have started filing a lawsuit against the United States government for sanctioning him in 2019. 

On December 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two individual Ministers in South Sudan. The US said sanctions ‘‘were pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13664 for expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan including by obstructing the reconciliation process or peace talks’’. 

The US said the action against Dr Lomuro and former Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs Kuol Manyang Juuk ‘‘was intended to target senior leaders in South Sudan who have perpetuated the conflict for their enrichment, which led to much suffering of the South Sudanese people’’. 

Dr Lomuro—who celebrated a verdict by a Kenyan anti-corruption high court unfreezing his account in Kenya Cooperative Bank—said on Saturday that he was confident of taking the US government to the international court of justice.

He maintained that his legal tussle with the US and Kenya Cooperative Bank was on and he would mount a serious challenge against the two. 

“We will take the Americans to the international court of justice for taking sanctions against me,” he told those who joined him on Saturday in the celebration of his recent court victory in Kenya.

Kenyan victory

Recently, Dr Lomuro won a case against the Kenya Asset Recovery Agency after he presented evidence of the source of the money frozen in a bank in Kenya over suspicion of money laundering.

Dr Lomuro argued that South Sudan is a sovereign country with a constitution and authority and that no one has the right to threaten any of its citizens.

“We are being threatened in our own country by people seating in small offices somewhere in New York,’’ he remarked.

 ‘‘Somebody [who will never tell you where] South Sudan is on the map. They use people to threaten us.

 We are a country, we are sovereign, we have the constitution and we have authority in our land and our country,” he added. 

The minister did not reveal what evidence he had to present to the International Court of Justice as he vowed a watertight case against Washington.

“I want to repeat this if I don’t take these Americans to the court of justice, I am not Martin Elia Lomuro, am not, and am at work already,” he said.

He urged South Sudanese who have been sanctioned or accused of corruption to use legal procedures to prove that they are wrongly accused.

He went to protest: “Our business people are the targets, our president is targeted, his family is exposed, and the vice president is exposed [too] what is this?

 ‘‘Who has the right to expose others like that? Because you are an American?’’ 

Sanctions

Dr Lomuro and the Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth were also sanctioned by OFAC in September 2017, after they were accused of playing a part in President Kiir’s initial unwillingness to sign a peace agreement in August 2015. 

In late 2016, OFAC alleged that Lomuro said the government of South Sudan would never allow the arrival of additional peacekeepers, which it had initially promised to accept, planning to negotiate the specifics of the deployment once the issue was dropped. 

Dr Lomuro and Mr Juuk have also been accused by OFAC as key ministers opposing the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. The court is an edifice of parties to investigate and try those responsible for war crimes and other serious crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence, since December 2013. 

In late 2019, Lomuro and other government officials were also accused of ‘‘actively recruiting and organising local militias used to conduct attacks against opposition forces in South Sudan’’.

The agency further stated that Lomuro is ‘‘designated for being responsible for or complicit in or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that have the purpose or effect of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan or obstructing reconciliation or peace talks or processes’’.

But Dr Lomuro has maintained his innocence in the face of all the allegations hence the plan to sue the Washington government. 

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