By Andrew Heavens
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan summoned the Kenyan and
Ethiopian Woyanne ambassadors on Monday to protest against what it said were illegal shipments of arms to its semi-autonomous south, state media reported.
Khartoum was protesting over “violations” linked to an arms shipment seized by pirates off Somalia’s coast that Western diplomats said was bound for south Sudan, and a plane-load of weapons from Addis Ababa, state news agency SUNA reported.
SUNA stopped short of accusing Ethiopia and Kenya of directly supplying the arms to south Sudan, which won its own government and the right to its own army in a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum that ended a two-decade civil war.
But it said that “against the backdrop” of the two shipments, the foreign ministry asked both envoys to “inform their governments of its protest at these violations”.
The move raised the heat in a simmering row over the shipment of 30 tanks seized by pirates last month off Somalia that western diplomats said were heading for south Sudan in possible breach of the peace agreement.
The pirates, who are still holding the cargo, said paperwork showed the tanks were heading to south Sudan through Kenya’s port of Mombasa. South Sudan has denied ordering the tanks and Kenya has insisted the machines were meant for its own army.
Sudan’s foreign ministry also protested about unspecified weapons that it said had arrived in south Sudan’s capital Juba on Friday on an Ethiopian military plane, SUNA said.
Southern officials and army officers on Monday denied the weapons were part of an arms delivery and told Reuters they had been brought in as exhibits in a long-planned trade fair.
Lieutenant General Biar Ajang of the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) said that rumours of an Ethiopian delivery of armaments were “confused”.
“They are coming to show local products, tents, uniforms, armaments, shells … like a shop,” he said.
Ethiopia’s Consul General Negash Legesse told Reuters some of the weapons had been taken to SPLA headquarters for inspection. “They are samples. Some Kalashnikovs. Some others that Ethiopia is producing,” he said.
Sudan’s foreign ministry said it was surprised at the shipments as both Kenya and Ethiopia had backed a 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war between north and south Sudan, SUNA said.
There are currently no global arms embargoes banning south Sudan from buying arms or supplying the SPLA.
But the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ban both the north and the south from building up arms without the approval of a north-south Joint Military Board.
Activists have repeatedly accused the northern Khartoum government of also re-arming, and of breaching the terms of a U.N. arms embargo covering the warring parties in the separate Darfur conflict.
(Additional reporting by Skye Wheeler in Juba, editing by Mark Trevelyan)