South Sudan Rejects UN Report Accusing It Of Buying Weapons

South Sudan has rejected allegations in a UN report accusing the government of buying weapons despite the country descending into famine.

South Sudan Rejects UN Report Accusing It Of Buying Weapons
A South Sudan army soldier stands next to a machine gun mounted on a truck in Malakal town on December 30, 2013 a few days after retaking the town from rebel fighters. 2013 [REUTERS/James Akena]

JUBA, 19 March 2017 [Gurtong]-The government spokesman, Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Friday that "We have not bought arms for the last two to three years."

He further said that the government has the right to buy arms for self-protection or self-defense.

“So this idea of the UN saying the government of South Sudan doesn't care about its people and they are fan of buying arms all the time is not correct," he said.

According to the confidential United Nations report, the government of South Sudan is spending its oil revenue on weapons, despite the country descending into a famine largely caused by Juba's military operations.

The 48 page report states that weapons continue to flow into South Sudan from diverse sources, often with the coordination of neighbouring countries.

The report further says that "The bulk of evidence suggests that the famine in Unity state has resulted from protracted conflict and, in particular, the cumulative toll of repeated military operations undertaken by the government in southern Unity beginning in 2014."

The report also calls for an arms embargo on South Sudan - a measure supported by the United States but rejected by the UN Security Council during a vote in December.

The experts found a "preponderance of evidence (that) shows continued procurement of weapons by the leadership in Juba" for the army, the security services, militias and other "associated forces."

South Sudan generates 97 percent of its budget revenue from petroleum sales. From late March to late October 2016, oil revenues totaled about $243 million, according to calculations from the panel.

At least half - "and likely substantially more" - of its budget expenditures are devoted to security issues including arms purchases, the 48-page report said.

Fighting began intensifying last July, devastating food production in areas that have traditionally been stable for farmers, including the Equatoria region, which is considered the country's breadbasket.

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