December 13, 2017 / 8:10 PM / 7 months ago

U.S. sanctions two Africans over ivory, weapons trade

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday blacklisted two people it said supported the outlawed Lord’s Resistance Army in Central African Republic through the illegal trade in ivory, weapons and money aimed at fueling conflict in the region.

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

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

The United States in August 2016 also imposed sanctions on Kony’s sons Salim and Ali, saying they were commanders in the rebel group blamed for extreme violence in a large part of central Africa. The Lord’s Resistance Army, like other armed groups, used ivory trade and wildlife trafficking to help fund their activities, the Treasury Department said.

“The U.S. government will not tolerate the actions of those who finance destabilizing 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 the Lord’s Resistance Army, according to the statement.

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

The Lord’s Resistance Army battled Ugandan forces for about two decades, becoming known for its brutality and kidnapping of 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.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Richard Chang

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