AFRICANGLOBE – The row between South Sudan and the United Nations over the ongoing conflict in Juba has deepened, threatening to worsen the war.
The Juba government wants an explanation from the UN relating to the latest recent seizure of weapons allegedly being smuggled to rebels in Lakes State by the United Nations.
The weapons were allegedly loaded on 13 trucks and disguised as construction materials for the UN mission’s Ghanaian contingent in the oil-rich Unity State.
The government said that the vehicles belonging to different companies based in Juba were being held in Lakes State capital, Rumbek, and another unspecified number were outside Rumbek.
“Three of the 13 detained semi-trailer vehicles each carrying two 20-feet containers were searched and a number of firearms and ammunition were recovered,” said a statement on the government website posted on Monday.
“The samples of the arms included rocket propelled grenade launchers, AK24, Gim files, anti-riot guns, binoculars, radio systems, bayonets, anti-Personnel landlines, among others.”
Information minister Michael Makuei Lueth said the weapons could have been destined for Riek Machar’s rebels, casting further doubts on the neutrality of the UN mission in the South Sudan conflict.
UNMISS was previously accused of sheltering Riek Machar from arrest after fighting broke out on December 15 in Juba, and later hosting him at its camp in Bor in Jonglei State.
The UN mission claims that the weapons were being delivered to its Ghanaian peacekeepers contingent but admitted that the cargo was wrongly labelled.
“In connection with the transport of cargo of general goods belonging to the Ghanaian battalion on its way to Bentiu, several containers were wrongly labelled and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunition,” UNMISS said in an earlier statement.
“This is regrettable. The Ghanaian troops are part of the surge of UNMISS troops to assist South Sudan and the goods were en route to Bentiu, passing through Rumbek.”
But the government said just admitting it as an error was not enough. “It is not enough that the South Sudan UN representative the other day issued a statement 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,” Mr Makuei said.
By: Machel Amos