Machar, Lomuro differ over arms embargo

Machar, Lomuro differ over arms embargo
Some of the illegal firearms collected earlier in Rumbek town [Photo: courtesy]

The contentious subject of arms embargo and sanctions slapped on some South Sudanese leaders continue to generate heated debate among the top government officials who hold different opinions on the matter.  

First Vice President Riek Machar and the Minister of Cabinet Affairs Elia Lomuro expressed varying opinions on the issue, painting a picture that the sanctions still remain to be the elephant in the government’s room. 

Addressing a gathering during the International Peace Day commemoration in Juba, Lomuro lashed out at the sanctions targeting individual leaders and the arms embargo on South Sudan, arguing that the restrictions are working against the gains in revamping national security.  

Lomuro claimed that the sanctions were meant to empower armed groups to topple the government because the administration is incapable of procuring more ammunition to defend the country’s territorial sovereignty.

“There are powerful countries imposing their will on the Security Council to take drastic decisions to sanction our country directly,” Lomuro said.

“Laying arms embargos on our country to the extent that we now provide our prison services, our police, and our fire brigade with sticks.”

Lomuro accused unnamed non-governmental organizations of espionage and false reports on South Sudan and government officials, saying the lifting of the sanctions was much overdue for the South Sudanese. 

He said it would enable the government to arm the law enforcement agents to carry on their mandates of protecting people, their property and South Sudan.  

“Some of this information is carried through NGOs that report on us, including me, to be sanctioned. That notion in the UNSC, and if it intends to be honest, the UNSC must end and respect the resolution of the African Union to lift the sanctions on the entire continent. “

“We cannot achieve peace with embargos imposed on us,” Lomuro stressed. 

Contrast

However, Machar, who also graced the same event, had a rather different view, sending forth a cautionary message that the insecurity situation in the country should not be blamed on the sanctions but the slow implementation of the peace agreement in letter and spirit.

“Let us make our country attractive to anybody who imposed sanctions on us so that the sanctions do not matter,” said Machar.

 “Even if we make serious statements –[like] lift the sanctions – the message is clear in front of us. We do what we should do alone they will break the sanctions.”

 The FVP added, “Let us look inward, and let us implement our agreement…it is by our actions – what we do – this is when [sanctions] will be lifted.”

Sanctions imposed

In 2018, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan. Since then, council has been renewing the embargo over the past four years on the reasons that the Juba administration is yet to comply with the directives of the union. 

The latest renewal in May 2022 came following Amnesty International’s recommendations to the council to maintain the sanctions owing to what it said was a “continuous” devastating security situation in the country with leaders doing “nothing” to stop the crisis.

While South Sudan protested the move, the council looked at the sanctions as viable means of pressuring rival parties to end violence and bring lasting peace to the vulnerable South Sudanese who pay the price of the protracted war. 

South Sudan, named among the world’s most insecure countries according to Amnesty International, does not need extra weapons to prevent further human rights violations. The watchdog said guns have been used to facilitate sexual violence and crimes in the country.

However, the government has rubbished reports on human rights violations, saying most of them are assembled by the saboteurs of the peace process.

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