South Sudan’s opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, has dismissed report that its forces were receiving weapons from Sudan.
In a report published this week, Conflict Armament Research (CAR) unveiled what it said were findings pointing to evidences that Khartoum was supplying the rebels based on weapons and ammunition captured by pro-government forces from opposition forces in Jonglei state late last year.
Some of the weapons examined by the CAR’s investigation team at South Sudan army headquarters in Upper Nile reportedly provided important details in the sources of arms supplied to the armed opposition forces.
The document pointed to new weapons manufactured in Sudan or from China in the possession of the rebels while some appeared damaged which suggested they were airdropped to the rebels.
But opposition officials refuted the claims made by the London-based entity, saying South Sudan’s government had been buying weapons from Sudan many of which the rebels also captured in several military encounters against president Salva Kiir’s government.
“For those who may not know it, South Sudan government buys weapons from Sudan. They also buy others from China as revealed last year when a consignment of $38 million worth of weaponry were shipped through Port Mombassa of Kenya destined for South Sudan,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
“Since we have been capturing sizable quantities of weapons from the government, seeing a Sudanese or Chinese manufactured weapon shouldn’t be a surprise. It shouldn’t also be alleged as evidence of receiving weapons from Khartoum,” he said.
Dak explained that even if the descriptions indicating sources of the weapons were to be true, this did not necessarily mean the weapons were delivered directly to the rebel forces.
He also said when the crisis erupted in December 2013 in South Sudan, the army began to split right from the national capital, Juba. In some areas as the fighting spread to states, he said, forces that joined the opposition also managed to take weapons and ammunition with them.
He said many of the weapons used by pro-government forces were purchased from Sudan and ended up in the hands of the different opposition forces in the country over the years