Arms embargo throws South Sudan on gloomy path

Arms embargo throws South Sudan on gloomy path
South Sudanese soldiers match with their arms. [Photo: Courtesy]

On May 26, 2022, the United Nations Security Council extended sanctions and arms embargo on South Sudan until May 31, 2023.

The directive came up after Albania, Brazil, France, Ghana, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States voted in favour of extension of sanctions while China, Gabon, India, Kenya and Russia abstained.

The embargo provided a setback to Juba administration that was waiting eagerly for a reprieve to buy arms to graduate the forces, especially after President Salva Kiir decried consequence of the restrictions on the chapter on security arrangements.

But in an interview with The City Review yesterday, the Spokesperson of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces, who doubles as a spokesperson for Joint Defense Board (JDB), Maj Gen Lul Ruai Koang, noted that graduation of forces was mandatory irrespective of arms embargo.

His sentiments corroborated what President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Information Minister Michael Makuei, and Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro, said that forces must be graduated with sticks to ‘shame western countries who imposed sanctions on the country.’

“With or without Arms embargo, forces will be graduated when all is said and done,” Koang said.

The elephant in the room now is the sticky question of when this would be possible.                                                                                                                                                                              

Puok Both Baluang, the Director for Information and Public Relations, and the acting press secretary in the office of the First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar Teny, responded to the statement of the US Charge d’Affaires that “In other words, we still have bigger fish to fry.” His words suggested that there was still a huge gap to be filled to entice the jury to overturn the status quo next year.

The Senior Representative of SSOA to CTSAMVM and SSOA Official Spokesperson, Brig. Samuel Chan Mut, accepted that the conditions were not met by parties to the agreement, as countless violations had been reported across the country, prompting the extension of sanctions and arms embargo.

He reiterated that the actions of holdout groups led by James Nando and Angelo Davido in Western Equatoria, were other reasons for the renewal of arms embargo.

“Our country can only be lifted from all these sanctions when we accept ourselves as sons and daughters of this great nation, but when we continue hating ourselves amidst the abundant resources our country possesses, then we will continue to rely on foreign aid,” Chan warned.

He showed concern about the appointment of leaders who lack an iota of respect for the constitution and laws that govern South Sudan.

Calls grow

Last month, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO), Edmund Yakani, told City Review that the government of South Sudan had the key to convincing the UNSC to lift the arms embargo by fully implementing the Revitalised Agreement.

“Last year, the minister of defence, Angelina Teny, made a clear statement on the conditions of the arms embargo. “She said clearly that the international community is not going to lift arms embargo if their required conditions are not fulfilled,” Yakani argued.

“These include the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement, Chapter two, on security arrangements, which includes graduation of forces. One of the prerequisites for the UNSC to lift the arms embargo is the implementation of Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), and in particular, chapter two.”

He added that continued inter-communal violence was another factor that was considered by UNSC to decide whether to lift arms embargo and sanctions or not, democracy, transparency, and accountability.

He stressed that the decisions of World Bank and IMF that South Sudan should not get loans until the question of accountability and transparency is addressed, was another basis of the UNSC decision.