US sanctions two Africans over ivory, weapons trade


The US Treasury Department blacklisted two people it said supported the outlawed Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central African Republic through illegal trade in ivory, weapons and money aimed at fuelling conflict in the region.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement it took action against Okot Lukwang, a Ugandan national, and Musa Hatari from Sudan, with help from the governments of their respective countries.

The US sanctions, like those imposed last year on LRA and its leader Joseph Kony, will block transactions involving any American or property under US jurisdiction, effective immediately. Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity in 2005.

In August 2016 the United States imposed sanctions on Kony’s sons Salim and Ali, saying they were commanders in the rebel group. LRA, like other armed groups, uses ivory trade and wildlife trafficking to fund their activities, the Treasury Department said.
“The US government will not tolerate the actions of those who finance destabilising activities in central Africa,” John Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement.

Lukwang acts as intelligence officer, oversees supply logistics and serves as an ivory broker for LRA, according to the statement.

Hatari serves as the main supplier of ammunition, mines, weapons, food, supplies and other goods to the group, it added.

LRA battled Ugandan forces for about two decades, becoming known for brutality and kidnapping children for use as fighters and sex slaves.

As the group was ejected from bases in northern Uganda around and what is now South Sudan, it retreated to an area of jungle straddling the borders of South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic.