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US place June 30 ultimatum on S. Sudan conflict.

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The UN Security Council is set to vote on a draft resolution presented by the United States that would give warring sides in South Sudan until June 30 to end fighting or face possible sanctions.

The proposed measure, which was seen by AFP, lists South Sudan’s defense minister among six officials who could be put on a UN sanctions blacklist if the sides fail to reach a peace deal.

The draft resolution would require UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report by June 30 whether fighting has stopped and whether the sides have “come to a viable political agreement.”

If not, the council “shall consider” imposing the sanctions and possibly an arms embargo within five days, according to the draft resolution.

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Diplomats said it remained unclear whether the United States will win the required nine votes in the 15-member council to put in motion the move to punish South Sudan’s leaders.

In 2016, Washington failed to win enough votes at the Security Council for the arms embargo and targeted sanctions.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, with critical backing from the United States, which remains Juba’s biggest aid donor.

But the US administration has grown increasingly frustrated with President Salva Kiir’s government as the brutal war grinds on, now in its fourth year.

In an op-ed on South Sudan published this week in the Washington Post, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said: “We have no more time to waste on empty promises.”

“By imposing financial and travel restrictions on individuals responsible for threatening the peace, we can ensure they pay a cost for perpetuating violence,” she wrote.

The United States last week proposed sanctions against the six South Sudanese officials but amended its proposal following negotiations to add the June 30 deadline.

The Inter Governmental Authority on Development which is overseeing revival of the 2015 peace deal has also been asked to take action against saboteurs after several talks between government and rebels failed.

Since the start of the war in December 2013, nearly 1.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes and tens of thousands have been killed.

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Motherland News

Families Identify Church Collapse Victims in Anguish

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Tears and anguish characterized the atmosphere as the grieving families of 13 worshipers killed in a church collapse arrived at the Richards Bay mortuary to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

The worshipers died when a wall collapsed at the Pentecostal Holiness Church near Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal last Thursday night.

The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department co-ordinated with various departments including health, home affairs and the police, to assist in speeding up the body identification process.

Six worshippers were from Ulundi, four from eSikhawini and three from Maqwakazi in uMlalazi.

Describing the collapse, Phumelele Simelane from eSikhawini said worshippers had just had their evening meal and were preparing to sleep when the wall caved in.

Simelane was with her 6-year-old son, who is recovering in hospital. She said she came to the mortuary to support congregants whose relatives died.

The Mthembu family, who lost grandmother Thembi Mthabela, 54, and Andiswa Mthembu, 10, in the tragedy were overcome with grief.

“Thembi loved going to church and she always took Andiswa with her. Andiswa was doing Grade 3 at Nyathini Primary School. As a family, we are very traumatised and it is hard for us,” said a relative, who did not wanted to be named.

Buhle Mzila, whose sister Samke, 33, died, said the family had lost a breadwinner.

Samke, who worked at the Ulundi Municipality, was with her 9-year-old daughter during the incident.

Buhle said her niece, who was in hospital, was in a state of shock about her mother’s death.

“Samke loved the church, she always made sure she attended every service. She played a big role in terms of assisting the family. We are still going to feel her absence,” said Buhle.

A sobbing Mbongeni Langa said his mother had died in a “place she loved”.

The memorial service will be held tomorrow

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Motherland News

CAF Sidelines Nigerian Centre Referees for 2019 AFCON

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Out of the Twenty-seven centre referees penciled down for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, countries like Burundi, Mali, Zambia and Sudan are represented on the list, but no Nigerian referee was selected for the big occasions.

However, only one assistant referee from Nigeria named Baba Adel was listed among the twenty-nine assistant referees selected by the African Football Governing Body.

The competition will be held from 21 June to 19 July 2019, as per the decision of the CAF Executive Committee on 20 July 2017.

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