JUBA – Senior South Sudan government officials on Tuesday clashed along party lines over the international sanctions and arms embargo imposed on the world’s youngest country by the US, United Nations and the European Union.
The minister of information and government spokesman Michael Makuei Lueth said while speaking at the 6th Governors’ Forum called on the international community to lift the arms embargo against the country, claiming that it undermines transition to peace.
“One of the major problems that is actually facing the security arrangements, we have graduated phase one, but without arms,” Makuei said.
“You have seen we graduated them with sticks, how will we deploy them with sticks and the international community is telling us to deploy them, should we deploy them with sticks? So, my request and my appeal to the UN Security Council is to lift the arms embargo.”
The call by Makuei was echoed by the minister of cabinet affairs Martin Elia Lomuro who claimed that sanctions are violation to the sovereign rights of the people of South Sudan despite the parties’ unwillingness to implement the revitalized agreement.
“Arms embargo is a violation of the sovereign right of the Republic of South Sudan to protect itself, and for you as a South Sudanese to support something that violates the right of your citizens to defend itself, it is not correct,” Lumuro said.
“The arms embargo is a clear violation of the United Nations chatters of the Republic of South Sudan as a member to protect itself. If you support our country being violated, you go and sleep tonight and think about it, tomorrow you come and apologize publicly here,” he added.
The country’s minister of agriculture Josephine Lagu however disagreed with the two government officials and said the government should disarm the militias and civilians and use their weapon to arm the unified forces.
“It is true that there are arms in the hands of the civilian population, and I think this is what is now being termed as conflict at the sub-national level,” she said.
“So really it is our responsibility as parties to the agreement to do all we possibly can to ensure that arms are taken off the hands of civilians,” she added.
For his part, SPLM-IO deputy chairman and first deputy speaker of parliament Nathaniel Oyet seconded Josephine and said there are no need for weapons as they continue to be the source of concerns from the international community amid illicit movement of arms in civilian hands.
“The arms embargo came under the backdrop of the conflict, the conflict which started in 2013 was raging and this is what attracted the arms embargo,” he said.
“I’m sure by now this embargo could have been lifted if we were diligent and faithful to our signatures. If we had implemented the peace agreement as required. I still want to reiterate that graduation with sticks should continue,” he added.