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S. Sudanese rebels asked Beijing not to sell weapons to Juba

October 24, 2014 (NAIROBI) – The opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) led by former vice-president, Riek Machar asked the Chinese government to stop selling weapons to president Salva Kiir’s government, an official has disclosed.

Chinese Trucks headed to South Sudan parked at Kenyan port of Mombasa (The Star)

“During the visit to Beijing on 21st September, our delegation led by the Chairman of External Relations Committee, Dr. Dhieu Mathok Diing, asked the Chinese government to stop selling weapons to the regime in Juba,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

“The Chinese ministry of Foreign Affairs responded positively in which they informed our delegation that they already instructed their institutions to stop selling and delivery of military equipment to Juba,” Dak added, saying that the rebel group was told the message had already been passed to Juba during the visit to Beijing by foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjiman.

He said the head of external affairs committee, Diing, briefed the SPLM-in-Opposition’s leadership council on Thursday in Nairobi on the outcome of the visit to Beijing.

He said during the September meeting, Beijing also expressed support to the ongoing peace process as the best option for resolving the current crisis in South Sudan and pledged to participate in the humanitarian intervention in the country.

In June China sold weapons worth $38 million, a consignment of which was delivered to South Sudan through the Kenyan coastal port of Mombassa.

Machar’s opposition group at the time criticized the Chinese government for what they said was a double standard in which it fuelled the war through sale of weapons to Juba while at the same time expressed to play role of supporting the peace process and peace keeping.

However of recent Beijing media reports suggested a confirmation that Chinese government distanced itself from the sale of weapons to South Sudan and instructed its companies not to sell or deliver weapons to president Kiir’s government.

Dak said the Chinese government and the rebel delegation also discussed Beijing’s concerns about the safety of their oil workers in South Sudan.

China is currently the biggest oil dealer in South Sudan.

Relations between Beijing and Juba remains intact despite recent expression of frustration by officials of president Kiir’s government against a leading Chinese company operating inside South Sudan.

Minister of information and official spokesperson of the government, Michael Makuei Lueth, this week accused a Chinese communications company, Huawei, of hacking government accounts and forging documents to cheat the government.

Observers said Juba may not be happy about the decision by Beijing to stop supporting it in the war against the rebels.

REBELS SAY KAMPALA ACCOMPLICE

As a comprehensive arms embargo by the international community is looming against South Sudan if the war continues, Juba had recently signed a strategic military cooperation agreement with Uganda in which Kampala can purchase weapons on behalf of the former.

The rebel spokesman said such a move by Kampala was unacceptable, adding this would also necessitate extending the arms embargo against the neighbouring country.

“By helping the regime in Juba to evade the would-be arms embargo, this would make Kampala an accomplice in the matter. It would necessitate extending the imposition of arms embargo on Uganda,” Dak said.

Uganda has been involved in the 10-month old war between president Kiir’s government and opposition forces allied to his former deputy Machar in which it deployed thousands of troops to South Sudan with back up by its airforce.

The conflict which started following political debates about reforms within the leadership of the ruling party (SPLM) turned violent in mid-December, plunging the country into civil war.

Tens of thousands of people have so far died and 1.8 million displaced with four million others threatened by hunger.

(ST)