South Sudan minister says ‘Hilde Johnson must answer’

UNMISSCargoCargo claimed to be a UN shipment with weapons, blankets and army uniform on the way from Rumbek to Bentiu. (Talk of Juba)

March 8, 2014 (Nyamilepedia) — Minister of Information and Broadcasting Michael Makuei says UN Special Representative Hilde Johnson ‘must answer’ over suspicions raised by the discovery of arms being transported in UN trucks en route to Bentiu via Rumbek.

Speaking to press in Rumbek, the minister said, “There is no guarantee that these materials were not going to other directions other than UNMISS. We will not ascertain it now but that raises a big question mark, a question mark that Hilde Johnson and her team must answer. They must answer on this, it is not enough that they write press releases and say they are setting up committees.”

UNMISS said in a statement Thursday that the arms in the trucks were for a Ghanaian peacekeeping contingent. It stated that transporting them by road was an error, since normally the all arms and ammunition for peacekeeping contingents are flown into bases rather than taken by road, as a security measure.

The peacekeeping mission added, “In connection with the transport of cargo of general goods belonging to the Ghanaian battalion on its way to Bentiu, several containers were wrongly labelled and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunition. This is regrettable.

“UN Headquarters intends to dispatch a high level investigation team to look into this matter on an urgent basis, in cooperation with the Government of South Sudan,” added the statement.

The minister said he came to confirm the report that UNMISS trucks have been found carrying arms and ammunitions. “These arms and ammunitions are not included in the waybill, the waybills of all the trucks do not talk of any firearms or rifles, or any military equipments. What is written in all the waybills is that these trucks are carrying materials, building materials, or engineering materials, they say,” he said.

“It is said to be a Ghanaian contingent which is on deployment to Bentiu, which has all this. But the question is, what is it that all the UNMISS force contingents that have been coming to South Sudan had been following the correct procedure, and they had been presenting the list of all that comes with them, they have been reporting all this to the government of the Republic of South Sudan and they are transported with the knowledge of the government.

“This time, and for reasons known to UNMISS in Juba they decided to conceal all this in engineering equipments and if you look at those containers and according to what we got here, the containers the way they are loaded is something which indicates that these things are not being done in good faith. It tells us that in any container there is a lot of other materials that the military equipments are put at the end of the container and then other military equp=ipments are put just at the entry, at the gate here.”

“So what you are seeing here now are what we have got from 3 containers the rest are not yet inspected. It is clear from this that UNMISS is not working in good faith as before. It’s not actually UNMISS but the people in UNMISS. We have no problem with UNMISS but as a UN institution, but our problem is with the personnel who are running UNMISS at present. These are the people who are doing things in bad faith.”

“There is no guarantee as of now that we will really trust these people who are working in UNMISS. From their top to any other place. This is simply because if people were working in good faith, then why transport these equipments, why hide them from the people, and from the government of the Republic of South Sudan. This is an ill intention and this will not be accepted by the government.”

“It is not enough that the special representative the day before yesterday wrote a press release, wrote a letter and admitted a mistake, calling it an error. It is not enough – in security situations like this there is no way we would say, ‘Okay, if that was a mistake then that is fine.’ Some people must answer. People must answer. We are in a security situation where we want to know everything that happens in the Republic of South Sudan. The government of the Republic of South Sudan is under duty to protect the people of South Sudan, and as such, nobody will be allowed to move with loose military equipments just anyhow like that inside South Sudan.

The minister continued, “There is no guarantee that these materials were not going to other directions other than UNMISS. We will not ascertain it now but that raises a big question mark, a question mark that Hilde Johnson and her team must answer. They must answer on this, it is not enough that they write press releases and say they are setting up committees – what happened at this particular moment, when there is a rebellion in South Sudan, that UNMISS begins to behave abnormally?”

“The security organs here, the state authorities, will continue to conduct searches even if it means searching one car per day. There is no problem, we are not in a hurry, but at the end of the day we will know how many firearms, how many PKMs, how many 42s, how many so and so were loaded in these trucks,” said Makuei.

Other trucks went ahead have been apprehended and will be searched. “There is no doubt that all these trucks were loaded with illegal arms that were smuggled into South Sudan,” he said.

“If such trucks can move from there and only apprehended here, it means that so many of them have been passing all over south sudan before. In fact we had doubts earlier about the conduct of UMISS, and now it is confirmed. UNMISS, the people who are working in UNMISS, they have a hidden agenda, and for that matter we will not allow that to continue again,” he affirmed.

Makuei said that the security services would continue to inspect trucks: “They have given us the license. These people who are working in UNMISS have given us the license to inspect any UNMISS car as of now. From now onwards we will continue to inspect them because they have proved to us that they are acting in bad faith.”

Makuei Lueth speaking against UNMISS

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