In the South Sudan conflict, there is always the question of who funds the rebels? For people like John Prendergast of the US lobby group “Enough” and regional spoiler Ethiopia, the crisis can be used as the perfect excuse to maintain sanctions on Eritrea by alleging and scapegoating it.
South Sudan’s army has intercepted weapons from a U.N. peacekeeping mission, a military spokesman said Friday, raising tensions between the government and international agencies as violence continued in the world’s newest nation.
“This is claimed to be a U.N. shipment with weapons, blankets and army uniforms on the way from Rumbek to Bentiu,” an army official said in a text message accompanied by photos of the seized consignment.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is supposed to carry weapons for its contingent by air, not by the road.
UNMISS spokesperson Ariane Quentier admitted the arms shipment was a “regrettable error” and pledged an investigation would be carried out.
“Several containers were labeled wrongly and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunitions. This is regrettable,” said Quentier in a press statement.
UNMISS is trying to contain violence that broke out on December 15, when a clash between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing sacked vice president Riek Machar snowballed into full-scale fighting across the country.
South Sudan’s government would send officials to Rumbek, capital of the Lakes state, to investigate the issue, spokesman Michael Makuei told Agence France Presse.
“We don’t know whether these weapons are connected to the rebel activities in the country or not. So, we shall go there and check the documents and it is from there that we shall respond to what U.N. is saying,” he said.
The interception risks increasing the tensions between Kiir’s government in Juba and UNMISS, which has been critical of both sides in the conflict.
Bentiu, where the weapons were headed, has been a key site of fighting.
The incident came as the U.N.’s World Food Program said on Friday that it was planning to airlift and airdrop urgently needed food aid to thousands of refugees and others affected by the fighting.
The government has been angry about U.N. criticism of its actions during the conflict. In January, Kiir accused the U.N. of trying to establish a “parallel government” in the country.
UNMISS countered that its civilian refugee camps have come under pressure from both sides, raising particular concerns after government forces tried to enter one of their bases by force to look for suspected rebels.
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