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Kiir intensifies campaign for arms embargo lift

By William Madouk

President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Wednesday jetted to Russia for bilateral talks with President Vladimir Putin.

According to the office of the president, the two heads of state will discuss strengthening bilateral ties between Moscow and Juba.

Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Presidential Affairs, said that Kiir will provide an explanation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement implementation process and the upcoming 2024 elections.

Marial stated that talks between the two principals will also focus on lifting the arms embargo and targeted sanctions on individuals.

In recent months, President Kiir has been advocating for the lifting of the arms embargo.

In his recent trip to New York, Kiir met with several world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly including the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres. Kiir met Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera.

The president also met in a separate meeting with the British Minister for International Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, where he discussed the progress made in the implementation of the revitalized agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

While addressing the 78th UN General Assembly, Kiir called for the lifting of the arms embargo, underlining that the country has made significant progress, but a lack of arms could hamper security during the forthcoming elections in December 2024.

“As we move in this direction, we call upon the United Nations to lift the arms embargo imposed on us to aid peace implementation and secure the elections,” Kiir appealed.

“The arms embargo has impeded the implementation of security arrangements because the effective deployment of the unified forces, which we have graduated from, cannot happen without arms.”

On May 30, the UN Security Council renewed the arms embargo imposed on the country for a year as it monitored the progress the government would make towards meeting the benchmarks set for lifting the embargo.

The benchmarks include the completion of the Strategic Defense and Security Review process, the formation of a unified command structure for the necessary unified forces (NUF), and the implementation of the Joint Action Plan for the Armed Forces on addressing conflict-related sexual violence.

Prior to the renewal of the arms embargo, the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan stated that there was no progress made on the establishment and implementation of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) or the proper management of existing arms and ammunition stockpiles.

This means that the country is not allowed to procure arms and ammunition, as well as armored vehicles until the benchmarks are met.

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