Senior government and military officials said South Sudan’s army has the constitutional mandate to arm itself to defend the country like other nations.
This comes after reports alleged that South Sudan bought new weapons through Uganda last month, even as the country descends into a deteriorating humanitarian situation largely caused by military operations.
South Sudan’s presidential adviser on military affairs, Daniel Awet Akot, told Radio Tamazuj that he was surprised after demands by international human rights groups and organizations for an arms embargo to be imposed on South Sudan while their own countries acquire weapons.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Malual Ayom, the assistant chief of defence force, said any country would need to know what other countries are doing in terms of modernization of the army in order to perform to the emerging realities so that it could be at par with other countries in defense.
“In defense, you need to know what other people are up to, particularly in a military sense. You need to also know that if you have an aircraft in the air, with its glass cockpit, that it’s not going to be interfered with from outside, the same with a ship, or for that matter and the ground troops in the deployment.” He said.
“This requires huge investment and constant evaluation and when you are technically aware, you would expect in a circumstance where you knew that someone was trying to attack you or your communications system or your operational system, or whatever it might be, that you would be able to deter that. This is the direction we at the command council would like the SPLA to move into so that it would become a professional army and we committed to ensuring this vision is realized,” he explained.
General Malual said if they had enough resources, the army would have acquired all the arms, equipment and other military supplies direct to the country.
The military official denied reports that South Sudan’s army acquired military supplies through other countries. “What are we hiding and from who? We have the constitution which gives the army an authority to acquire arms and other weapons to execute it tasks and duties,” he said.
However, Ugandan registered Bosasy Logistics Ltd that supplies weapons confirmed to Radio Tamazuj that the Ugandan government bought new weapons last month but couldn’t confirm whether or not the new weapons will be shipped into South Sudan.
Samuel Luate Lominsuk, a South Sudanese diplomat who was the head of mission to Uganda before he was recalled, said he was not aware weapons were being shipped into South Sudan through Uganda.
“I have no comment because I am not aware. These are defence matters. If you want to know the details, talk to officials at the ministry of defence or our generals in Juba,” said Luate.