Arms embargo to blame for armed cattle herders, says Onyoti

Arms embargo to blame for armed cattle herders, says Onyoti
Onyoti Adigo, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries (photo credit: Kidega Livingstone/The City Review)

The Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, Onyoti Adigo, has said the arms embargo imposed on South Sudan has made armed youth more powerful than the army.

Onyoti said a lack of access to weapons has made it impossible for the government to disarm its civil population.

He called on the UNSC to lift the arms embargo so that the government can arm the necessary unified forces to disarm the notorious cattle keepers who have been causing insecurity across the country.  

“Cattle keepers [have] become notorious because they move with their arms, making it very difficult to control them. Some of them are more powerful than the army. It’s not easy to disarm them unless the army has powerful weapons, ” Onyoti said.

He made the statement during the agriculture advocacy and lobby meeting that brought together cattle keepers and farmers yesterday.

The meeting was organised by the Daughters of Mary Immaculate. 

Onyoti said the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should not focus only on the wars that broke out in 2013 and 2016 but also consider the proliferation of guns among the civilian population.

“The leaders who are signatories to the agreement have started working together, and they have no idea of returning to war. The main challenge now remains is how the government can remove the guns from the armed civil population. ” 

“The cattle keepers are carrying more sophisticated weapons than the government because these cattle belong to the big people. Some people can be notorious because they are looking after the cattle of big people in government, ” Onyoti stressed.

In May 2021, the UNSC extended the embargo for another year, with the duration expected to end on May 31, 2022.

A total of 13 members of the council voted for the extension of the embargo, and none voted against it. Kenya and India abstained from the vote.

However, Onyoti said the government had voluntary disarmament several times, but the cattle keepers kept buying more weapons to protect their cattle from being raided by other communities. 

According to Onyoti, there are over 36 million herds of cattle in South Sudan, more than the human population.