Kiir (left) and Putin (right) seen in this photo at the Russia-Africa summit in October 2019. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

South Sudan lobbies Russia to lift arms embargo

Kiir (left) and Putin (right) seen in this photo at the Russia-Africa summit in October 2019. Photo: AFP/Getty ImagesWashington, DC/Juba, December 25, 2022 (SSNA) — The government of South Sudan has launched a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to reverse an arms embargo that was imposed by the UN Security Council in July 2018, an official at the South Sudan embassy in Washington, DC, with full knowledge of the matter and who demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) on Sunday.

According to the official, a strategy to help remove the young nation from the UN sanctions list was initially designed in October 2020 but the plan failed to take shape after a recommendation from Uganda President Yoweri Museveni.

“This removal thing from the UN sanctions file is more than two years now. The government noticed after all these years that getting modern military weapons, ammunition, and other things for our soldiers has become harder and harder because of what the UN did to us back in 2018,” the source explains.

“We did our part in East Africa. We lobbied very hard but President Museveni told President Kiir in February this year that the only best option for South Sudan is to approach Russia or China,” the official states, adding, “Presidents Kiir and Museveni both agreed that Russia would be a good bet.”

The official claims the government is incapable of training and graduating the unified forces because of the sanctions, saying, “You know we cannot speed up training for the unified forces because we have no way to buy weapons for them, I mean the new unified forces. They should listen to us and allow us to buy guns for our new soldiers.”

The South Sudan News Agency understands that South Sudan has been consistently lobbying some East African countries, especially Uganda and Kenya. The SSNA also learned that President Salva Kiir has on numerous occasions talked to some key players at the African Union and urged them to help secure the lifting of the UN arms embargo. Kiir also asked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to help him through diplomatic channels.

“As far as we are concerned, the only option is to get permanent members or a member of the UN Security Council to help us. This is a long shot because we know the United States of America and her allies also permanent members of the Council don’t support our call. This is a tough call but we believe we will achieve it with Russian help,” according to the official.

The embassy official declined to reveal details of Juba-Moscow discussions on the issue. However, the source discloses that talks between the two nations are ongoing and that the embassy in collaboration with the South Sudan office at the United Nations in New York is working tirelessly on the issue.

The Russian Federation and China are permanent members of the Council and abstained when the UN extended the arms embargo in May 2022. The other nations that did not vote for the extension were Kenya, Gabon, and India.

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