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UN experts fault gov’t over breach of arms embargo

By William Madouk

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Panel of Experts on South Sudan has put the government on spotlight over a potential breach of the imposed 2018 arms embargo.

UN Experts cited 10 armored personnel carriers seen when President Salva Kiir flagged off SSPDF contingent to DR. Congo for peace keeping mission as evidence, but government denies the claims.

The repot claimed that the bulletproof vehicles were distinct in design and color from those procured in violation of the arms embargo in late 2021, 2022 and SSPDF bought before embargo was imposed.

“They are also distinct from those known to have been purchased by the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces prior to the imposition of the arms embargo by the Security Council with a resolution,” the report reads in part.

The UN Panel said they have identified a commercially available vehicle that matches those observed in South Sudan and is often marketed as the Titan-S.

According to the UN experts it is a highly modified and steel-clad version of a commercially available civilian vehicle labeled as 2019 design.

“As several companies appear to sell the vehicle in question, however, the panel has not been able to confirm the supply chain by which the vehicles entered South Sudan,” experts noted.

The UN also added that several manufacturing companies told them that, it is common for companies to copy the designs of competitors or simply resell vehicles with new logos and branding.

“Panel was told that companies might use fake branding to evade detection. ‘Putting logo and symbol on there is all a way of redirection because they don’t want to get caught up in sanctions’” a report reads.

Report also alleged a supplementary budget of $6.69 million was allocated to the deployment of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces contingent to the East African Community forces.

But according to the UN panel, the original SSPDF documents reviewed by the Panel indicate that troops deployed as part of the mission are being paid in line with current South Sudan People’s Defense Forces salary scales.

“As such, salaries likely account for only a fraction of the allocated funds. South Sudan People’s Defense Forces officials have stated that funds were mostly allocated to “equipment,” the report added.

Reacting to the matter, the acting minister of Foreign Affairs, Deng Dau in an exclusive interview refuted a Security Council’s report that government breached arms embargo status by illegally procuring vehicles.

“These experts, they are always given consent to come to South Sudan and get our statement but they refused to put our side of stories into their reports – to keep allegations just to keep their work [mandate] going on,” Dau told No.1 Citizen Newspaper.

“We have a standing army called SSPDF, so it’s not up to panel of experts to tell us all those stories. We have not bought anything from outside this is our equipment that has been there since we came out of war,” he added.

Mr. Dau said South Sudan is sovereign country and own sovereign materials, thus dispatching a battalion to participate in East African Community forces should be appreciated not condemned.

“So, the UN should be thankful and helpful of what we are doing as South Sudan not to condemn us,’ he echoed “We have not bought anything from outside, they should ask their manufactures if we have procured anything from outside.”

When asked about the allocated budget to SSPDF peace mission to Congo, Dau said its none of the UN’s business, adding that a supplementary budget was not meant only for paying salaries but also for equipment.

“It’s not their concern (the UN panel) whether we pay them in local or hard currency, it is all South Sudanese who are paid internally with local currency,” he cited.

“The budget that was made – is for the forces that were going to DR Congo not only for paying salaries but to cover for their medical equipment and communication equipment,” Mr. Dau explained.

Acting minister of Affairs added that: “It’s up on South Sudan to equip their own soldiers so that they can discharge their duties.”

On May last year, UNSC Panel of Experts on South Sudan also criticized the government over breach of the arms embargo.

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