NAIROBI, October 13 – Sudan’s government has denied reports that military hardware seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia was destined for the south of that country.,
Sudan’s Ambassador to Kenya Majok Guandong told Capital News in an exclusive interview in Nairobi that the autonomous Southern Sudanese government has the capacity to purchase its own arms directly.
His statement supports the Kenyan government’s stand that the hijacked shipment aboard MV Faina that was seized last month was not bound for South Sudan, as claimed by US navy officials.
“The government of Kenya has spoken at the highest levels. There is no point for the government of Sudan or the autonomous Southern Sudanese government to buy arms through another country. Why should they?” he posed.
Mr Guandong noted that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 allows replenishment of military equipment following an approval by the North-South Joint Defence Board.
“The CPA says that the Sudanese People Liberation Army will have to be organised, trained and supplied by the government of Southern Sudan, and so there is nothing peculiar as this is all in the constitution,” he said.
Mr Guandong also denied a UN arms embargo against his country.
“I haven’t seen any such policy that is preventing arms to Southern Sudan or Sudan in general, this is all speculation by the Press,” he accused.
The ambassador further dismissed reports that both Khartoum and Juba have been stockpiling arms ahead of the 2011 referendum that will decide whether oil-rich Southern Sudan will secede.
“Oil is not confined to Southern Sudan; even the North has oil and the question of building arms ahead of 2011 is out of the question,” he affirmed.
Mr Guandong said the former enemies in Sudan’s long civil war are in a perfect working relationship led by President Omar Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir.
‘The two principals are in constant consultations and there is no cause for panic that we as the Sudanese people are aware of,” he said.
The diplomat stated that he was confident the referendum would not split the north and south regions of the country.
“The option of secession is open and Al Bashir has said that he will respect the will of the people.”
Mr Guandong added that he was optimistic the country ravaged by war for more than two decades before a peace deal in 2005, has its dark past firmly behind it.
“There have been challenges in this government but they have been sorted amicably and we are all happy with the implementation of the CPA.”
The envoy stressed meanwhile that his government was working with the international community to root out piracy in the region.
“We are all concerned about what is happening in the Somalia waters and we will do everything possible with other partners to root out the trend,” he promised.
His statement comes amid mounting pressure over piracy in the waters around Somalia.
US warships and navies from other nations are shadowing MV Faina to prevent pirates who seized it from offloading its military cargo.
At least 69 ships have been attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia since the start of 2008, almost half of which were successfully boarded and held for ransom.
The Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s busiest maritime routes and under increasing surveillance from foreign warships, leading pirates to venture further out to catch their prey.