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Russia Blocks U.S. Proposal for More South Sudan Sanctions at UN

Russia objected on Tuesday to a U.S. bid to impose UN Security Council sanctions on South Sudan's army chief and a rebel commander for their roles in the country's more than 20-month conflict, diplomats said.

South Sudan plunged into civil war in December 2013 when a political crisis sparked fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy Riek Machar. The conflict reopened ethnic fault lines that pit Kiir's Dinka against Machar's ethnic Nuer forces.

Kiir on Tuesday urged his people to "join hands" in implementing a peace deal to end the conflict, after repeated outbreaks of fighting since rebels and the government signed the pact last month.

The United States had proposed to a UN Security Council sanctions committee that South Sudanese army chief Paul Malong and rebel commander Johnson Olony be subjected to a global travel ban and asset freeze.

But Russia, Angola and Venezuela requested on Tuesday that the proposal be put on hold. A hold does not mean the proposal is dead, but it delays consideration. Diplomats said Angola wants to give the parties more time to implement the peace deal.

The UN Security Council blacklisted six rival generals in South Sudan in July, the first people to be subjected to a global asset freeze and travel ban.

The United States and other Western donors have accused Kiir and Machar of squandering goodwill after South Sudan's independence and hindering development in an oil-producing nation with almost no tarmac roads and heavily reliant on aid.

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