South Sudan Violated UN Arms Embargo, Amnesty Says

(Bloomberg) -- South Sudan has continued to import and conceal arms despite a United Nations ban, according to Amnesty International.

While hundreds of rifles and small arms observed in the hands of soldiers were acquired prior to the embargo, “several bodyguards for prominent generals from government and opposition forces alike, who would have first access to newly acquired weapons, carried models of Eastern European weapons never before documented in the country,” the U.K.-based human-rights organization said in a report released Thursday.

South Sudan named a new power-sharing government in February after protracted negotiations between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, who now serves as vice president. A 2018 peace deal ended a civil war that killed at least 300,000 people.

“We in the general army headquarters have decided not to respond to all the allegations made by Amnesty,” Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said by phone in Juba. Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth declined to comment.

At the time the ban was established in June 2018, the government’s fleet of Mi-24 attack helicopters was dysfunctional and grounded. It has since acquired spare parts to refurbish them.

“Just one of these attack helicopters costs $36 million, and parts and maintenance come at a premium, particularly when these components violate a UN arms embargo,” Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s director for East and Southern Africa, said in the statement.

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