South Sudan: Renewed Arms Embargo ‘Threatens’ Peace Process

By Deng Machol

President Salva Kiir

Juba – The renewed arms embargo on South Sudan by the UN Security Council is a threat to the implementation of the peace agreement, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Juba says the extension of the arms embargo poses a great threat to the country’s efforts to realize peace and stability.

Last week, the UN Security Council voted to extend the sanction regime for a year despite resistance from two countries—India and Kenya that absented from the vote, with a clause providing for a review of its relevance in April 2022.

The arms embargo prohibits the supply, sale, or transfer of weapons and the provision of technical assistance, training, and other military assistance to the territory of South Sudan.

It will remain active until 31 May 2022.

Reacting to the extension, Ambassador Thomas Kenneth Elisapana, the acting spokesperson in the South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the sanctions impede the peace deal’s implementation.

“These punitive measures undermine the sovereignty of the nation and jeopardize the progress of the implementation of the revitalised agreement,” said Kenneth.

He stated that the action by the UNSC undermines the sovereignty of the country and will delay the graduation of expected unified forces  since the country will not be in a position to buy arms for the peace soldiers.

Kenneth said “By extending the arms embargo, graduation of the National Unified Forces (NUF) will greatly be affected, and will eventually weaken South Sudan to ascertain herself socially, economically, politically and in any unprecedented aggression internally or externally.”

South Sudan, was just emerging from six years of civil war that claimed some 380,000 lives, and uprooted four million from their homes, according to a UN report.

The conflict was officially withheld with the creation of a government of national unity in February 2020, followed 2018 peace deal.

According to Kenneth, the government expected that the recent reconstitution of the national legislature would be enough to reverse the decision.

“The government was expecting the international community to welcome the positive steps it has taken in the implementation of the R-ARCSS by lifting the sanctions. The government needs the encouragement of the International Community to do more towards the implementation of the agreement, instead of continuing renewing sanctions annually although they have proved unhelpful towards the stabilization of the situations in the country,” said Kenneth.

Juba further pointed out that if the international community needs change in South Sudan, then they should lift the sanctions.

“Lifting the sanctions would clear the image of the country and would accord it great opportunity to start acting again with the partners for the wellbeing of South Sudanese people,” said Kenneth. Therefore, South Sudan appeals world heartedly to the international community to review this untenable solution, as the country advances towards trust-building, reconciliation and healing, and peaceful resolution to the conflict.” 

According to a report, the estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in East Africa’s youngest nation is 1,255,000 in 2017 and 3,000,000 in 2013.

Besides, the defense forces of South Sudan are reported to have 351,500 firearms.

However, the peace process remains fragile as the confrontation between the parties, including subnational violence still exists.

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