Monthly Archives: March 2014

South Sudan Needs More Answers On Seized UNMISS Arms

By Joan Walters
South Sudan News

PaulJacob_ssnSouth Sudan Acting Director General of Information Paul Jacob viewing some of the guns
[Photo: Matata Safi]

Rumbek — March 10, 2014 … The rift between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the leadership of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UMNISS) seems to be deepening after authorities in the Lakes state last week seized vehicles contracted by the later to transport ‘building materials’ were found to be carrying military hardware.

Thirteen of the privately owned vehicles belonging to different companies based in Juba are now been held in Lakes State capital Rumbek, and another unspecified number have also been detained beyond Rumbek.

 

Three of the thirteen detained semi-trailer vehicles each carrying two twenty-feet containers were searched and a number of firearms and ammunition were recovered.

 

The samples of the arms as were being ‘identified’ by military personel included; Rocket Propel Grenade (RPF) launchers, AK24, Gim files, Anti Riot guns, Binoculars [Ances-6 Trilium night bino], radio systems, Bayonets’ Anti-Personal Landlines among others.

 

UNMISS in a statement confirmed the incident and said the seized cargo were meant for its Ghanaian peacekeepers on a peace keeping mission in South Sudan.

 

“In connection with the transport of cargo of general goods belonging to the Ghanaian battalion on its way to Bentiu, several containers were wrongly labeled and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunition This is regrettable,” a UNMISS press release issued on Thursday partly read.

 

“It is the policy of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) that during the crisis in South Sudan all arms and ammunition for peacekeeping contingents are flown into respective areas of deployment and not taken by road. This is an important security measure.” However the government says it needs more answers than ‘just’ issuing press releases.

 

“It is not enough that the South Sudan UN representative the other day issued a statement and admitted it was a mistake and called it an error; in security situations like this, we will not say ok, if it was a mistake, it is fine …some people must answer, some people must answer” South Sudan’s Information Minister Hon. Micheal Makuei Lueth who traveled to Rumbek on Saturday said after confirming the UN consignment that was impounded.

 

He wondered why the UN body did not following the correct procedures of handling military hardware, as they have been doing previously. We had earlier on established a system, that when importing arms and amunitions or any other military hardware, UNMISS informs the government before these items could begin to move from where they are been imported. It is there after that we [government] give them approval. Hon. Makuei explained. Adding that even after the equipment are moved to South Sudan, they are inspected before they are moved to their destination.

 

“UNMISS is not working in good faith, in fact our problem is not with UNMISS as a UN entity in South Sudan but with the personnel who are running UNMISS – why are they hiding these arms from the South Sudan government? This is an ill intension and this will not be accepted by the government of South Sudan” the Hon. Makuei who is also the government’s official spokesperson stressed.

 

The government earlier accused UNMISS for what is termed as ‘handing over’ of it vehicles and military tanks to the rebels of Dr. Riek machar who rebelled against the government after a failed coup attempt in mid December last year. UNMISS denied the charges.

 

At least from the offloaded containers, the arms and firearms were found parked at the far end of the container, while towards the entrance were building material as indicated on the way bill.

 

Containers bear varying destinations

Despite all waybills of the thirteen impounded vehicles indicating Bentiu as the last destination of delivery; varying labels could be seen on the containers suggesting that not all the containers were heading to Unity state as indicated in the waybills. Rumbek, Bentiu are some of the labels on the containers.

 

Lakes state Governor Matur Chut Dhuol wondered why the container(s) for Rumbek were not handed over to the UNMISS representatives in Lakes state. Governor Dhoul said it is time the UN brings fresh faces to its mission in South Sudan.  If you keep people in the same positions for very many years, they will get used to the system and begin manipulating it he said.

 

The drivers speaks out

Speaking to all the drivers of the different companies currently in custody, one thing was clear, all the drivers were not present when the containers were loaded.

 

“We are drivers of a company called Taslim, when these containers were filled, we were not there. When we arrived with out trucks, we found the containers had seals on them and were loaded on our truck; We were latter given the waybills indicating that what we had on board are building materials”, one driver of Kenyan origin who identified himself as Ali speaking in Kiswahili said.

 

As drivers we are not hired by UN nor paid by UN. We are here as drivers of our company that pays us; we do not know anything about these guns, he added.

They wanted to hire about twenty trucks, but am sure they did not find all that number, said another driver Abraham Ladu, a South Sudanese National who lives in Malakia, a suburb in the Capital Juba. Indeed we found there were many containers all sealed waiting to be transported at the UN base in Tongping; Laku whose company vehicle was hired on the 14th  of last month said

 

IGP was misled Hon: Makuei

Hon. Makuei said because of the blanket-trust that the government had on UNMISS, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) based on the waybills presented to him, he said issued a letter to all roadblocks and all the police commissioners of the states through which the vehicles would be passing, directing them to facilitate the free movement of the trucks. “It turned out that even the IGP was misled”, Hon. Makuei noted.

 

He congratulated the lake states government particularly the governor and the security operatives. He said if the hired vehicles were able to move thousands of kilometers only to be apprehended in Rumbek, ‘that means these vehicles have been moving everywhere”. Hon. Makuei further said the ‘UNMISS has given the government the licenses” to search any UN vehicle anywhere in South Sudan.

 

The high-level government delegation that was in Rumbek over the weekend to confirm the “illegal” transportation of UN arms included, Hon. Makuei, the Interior Minister Aleu Ayieng Aleu and the deputy minister of General Education Bol Makueng who went as a representative of the Ruling Party Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Paul Jacob Kumbo, the Acting Director General of Information in the Ministry of Information. Reporters from both public and private media houses were flown in to witness.

South Sudan VP James Wani Igga Returns To Juba From Abuja Summit

wani-igggga
Vice President HE James Wani Igga

By South Sudan News Staff

JUBA — March 7, 2014 … South Sudan Vice President HE James Wani Igga arrived in Juba from Abuja, the Capital of Nigeria on Thursday where he led a high level delegation to attend the just-concluded Human Security summit.

Upon arrival at Juba International Airport, His Excellence Igga, was received by the South Sudan Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin and other ministers and senior government officials.

“We had a very important visit to Nigeria. We arrived in Abuja on the February 27, it was a very big conference attended by over forty heads of states” the Vice President told reports in Juba. The seven-day conference centered on security, peace and development in Africa.

He said the South Sudan delegation, made fruitful engagements with a good number of heads of states within the sidelines of the conference where they briefed them on the political and economic situation in the country.

HE Igga also met with the Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan and discussed matters of bilateral relations and cooperation.

 

African Union Welcomes Conclusion of Phase Two of South Sudan Peace Process

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

ADDIS ABABA — March 5, 2014 … The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, welcomed the conclusion of Phase II of the South Sudan Peace Process, after two weeks of substantive consultations on a Declaration of Principle and a Framework for Political Dialogue towards National Reconciliation and Healing.

She commended the IGAD Special Envoys, including its Chair, Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, for their relentless efforts towards the resumption of the political negotiations and the progress they have achieved thus far.

The Chairperson of the Commission welcomed, in particular, the progress made in finalizing the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles. She expressed the hope that the parties would be able to sign this document at the resumption of the next phase of the talks, on 20 March 2014. The Chairperson reiterated AU’s full support to the envisaged deployment of an African stabilization force led by IGAD, as proposed by the Mediation.

The Chairperson of the Commission also welcomed the signing, on 3 March 2014, by the SPLM/A (in Opposition), of the Implementation Modalities in support of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities (CoH), which was signed by the Government of South Sudan on 24 February 2014.

As part of the implementation and consolidation of the CoH, the Chairperson of the Commission expresses AU’s support to the IGAD efforts. She looks forward to the early deployment of the Monitoring and Verification Teams (MVTs), as well as to the finalization of the work being done towards the deployment of the envisaged African force to protect the MVTs and contribute to the stabilization of the situation.

The Chairperson of the Commission reaffirmed the AU’s commitment to continue to work closely with IGAD and its Special Envoys to assist the South Sudanese parties in finding a consensual and comprehensive solution to the conflict in their country. In this regard, she wishes to remind the South Sudanese parties of the commitment they made to an all-inclusive dialogue and reconciliation process, with the aim of resolving the issues related to the current crisis and laying the foundation for lasting peace, security and stability in their country.

In this connection, the Chairperson of the Commission recalls earlier AU pronouncements, emphasizing the imperative of inclusivity with the participation of all stakeholders, both armed belligerents and those who did not take up arms, including other political actors, civil society, traditional and religious leaders, as well as the youth and women.