SUDAN WATCH: UN inspectors uncover plane-load of Ethiopian weapons at Juba Airport, S. Sudan - Pirates still holding shipload of Russian tanks destined for GOSS

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

UN inspectors uncover plane-load of Ethiopian weapons at Juba Airport, S. Sudan - Pirates still holding shipload of Russian tanks destined for GOSS

According to Gulf News today, Wednesday, 15 October 2008, UN inspectors said that an Ethiopian DC130 cargo plane, carrying 40 tonnes of ammunition and light armaments, was seized at Juba Airport, South Sudan for illegal trade in arms. Reuters says it happened on Friday, October 10.

Also today, the Scotsman reported that American warships continue to monitor the hijacked vessel MV Faina which is anchored near the Somali port of Hobyo.

The Ukrainian ship, carrying 33 Russian tanks, is still being held by pirates demanding an $8m (BBC and The Scotsman say $20m) ransom. Associated Press reported that on Tuesday before last, various news reports said that the demand had dropped from $20 to $8 million.

On Friday, 10 October 2008, several news reports said that the pirates threatened to blow it all up, themselves included, by Monday, October 13, if an $8m ransom was not paid within three days. Today, the Scotsman says the US navy said the deadline passed without incident.

BBC says Kieve is being urged to pay ransom and relatives say they will try to raise the ransom money themselves.

Sources: Selection of news reports, featured here below. Also, see previous reports re hijacked Ukrainian ship: Sudan Watch Thursday, 9 October 2008 - MV Faina cargo was for Ethiopia? NATO agrees to join anti-piracy operations off coast of Somalia: seven of its frigates will arrive within two weeks
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Snapshot of Google's newsreel re $8m ransom:
Somali pirates release Iranian ship
Persian Journal, Iran - Oct 10, 2008
... demanded a $20 million ransom, but reports Tuesday said the demand had dropped to $8 million. A half-dozen US Navy warships have surrounded the MV Faina.

Somalia:Pirates deny talks with owners to release Ukranian ship
Mareeg, UK - Oct 10, 2008
The capture of the MV Faina has sparked controversy over the destination of its cargo and thrown a spotlight on rampant piracy in one of the world's busiest ...

US navy continues to monitor hijacked vessel
The Mercury (subscription), South Africa - Oct 9, 2008
Lt Nathan Christensen, a spokesman from the United States fifth fleet in Bahrain, said that the navy was in regular contact with the crew of the MV Faina. ...

UN calls for action to fight pirates off Somalia
The Associated Press - Oct 9, 2008
... but reports Tuesday said the demand had dropped to $8 million. A half-dozen US Navy warships have surrounded the MV Faina. The resolution only applies ...
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Pirates threaten to blow up MV Faina unless ransom was paid by Monday night - US navy said the deadline passed without incident - Pirates still holding shipload of Russian tanks destined for GOSS

From BBC Tuesday, 14 October 2008 -
Kiev urged to pay pirate ransom:
Relatives of crew members on a seized Ukrainian ship have urged Ukraine to pay a multi-million ransom to pirates holding the vessel off Somalia's coast. The relatives held a rally in Kiev, accusing the authorities of inaction in the crisis, which began last month. The Somali pirates earlier said they would blow up the MV Faina, which has a cargo of tanks, unless a $20m (£12m) ransom was paid by Monday night. A pirate spokesman later said the deadline may be extended [following requests from the ship's owner and other officials].
From The Scotsman Wednesday, 15 October 2008 by Mohamed Sheikh Nor -
Troops free ship's crew in a blow for pirates:
"...the US navy said the deadline passed without incident. Relatives of the crew members demanded on Monday that the Ukrainian government stop delaying and just pay the ransom. Ukraine's government says it opposes the use of force against the pirates, but as a matter of policy it will not negotiate with terrorists. American warships continue to monitor the Faina, which is anchored near the Somali port of Hobyo. Nato ministers have agreed to send seven ships to the area within two weeks.
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UN inspectors uncover plane-load of Ethiopian weapons at Juba Airport, South Sudan

From Gulf News Wednesday, 15 October 2008 by Duraid Al Baik -
Arms smuggling worries Sudan:
The Sudanese Government is in a state of shock following the accidental discovery of two consignments of arms that were allegedly on its way to the southern army.

The sensitivity of the issue stems from the fact that the fragile truce between North and South Sudan might collapse if the allegation proves true, a source from the Information and Communication Ministry told Gulf News on Tuesday.

The first consignment of 35 Russian tanks and artillery guns was intercepted by Somali pirates when they hijacked an Ukrainian ship off the coast of Somalia. The pirates said that the consignment, purchased by Kenya, was on its way to the south of Sudan.

The second incident of illegal armament was uncovered by the UN inspectors who said that an Ethiopian DC130 cargo plane, which was carrying 40 tonnes of ammunition and light armaments, was seized at the Juba Airport in the south for illegal trade in arms.

The UN inspectors who are entrusted with the enforcement of the 2005 peace treaty informed the Sudanese government, earlier this week, about the consignment and called the authority in Khartoum to take action.

Bakri Al Mulah, Secretary General of the Exterior Information Council in Khartoum, said the government is willing to find a peaceful end to the two arm smuggling cases before they snowball into a major crisis and sweep the 2005 peace treaty away.

"The ministry of foreign affairs is collecting information about the two consignments for which the ambassadors of both Kenya and Ethiopia were summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain Khartoum's concerns about the two incidents," Al Mulah told Gulf News.

Meanwhile, Kenya denied the accusation of the Somali pirates and said the tanks were meant for Kenya and not for the Southern Sudan army. Ali Abdo, Ethiopia's ambassador to Sudan told reporters in Khartoum that the load of the DC130 is part of commercial goods which was meant to be put on display at a local trade exhibition to be held in Juba.

The two ambassadors were summoned by Sudan's foreign ministry on Monday and were asked to come up with a written statement from their governments.

Mohey Deen Jebril, a political analyst in Khartoum, told Gulf News that the National Congress Party is concerned about a series of violations committed by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement Army, a partner of the ruling coalition government.

"Under the peace treaty signed by South and North Sudan in 2005, which ended a two-decade civil war, both sides are not allowed to upgrade their army in the ceasefire zones without the approval of the other partner," he said.

Assessing

Jebril said Khartoum is assessing what it can do with its southern partner and with its neighbours who seems to have helped the southern army to violate the peace treaty.

"Sudanese in the North could not trust the referendum on unity to be held in 2011 as it would not reflect the free choice of people in the south, as its partner is not sincere," he added.

The ambassadors of both Kenya and Ethiopia were summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain Khartoum's concerns.
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From BBC News Tuesday, 14 October 2008 -
Sudan summons envoys over weapons
Sudan has summoned the ambassadors of Kenya and Ethiopia over what it says are illegal deliveries of weapons to the country's semi-autonomous south.

The summons came after Somali pirates seized a Ukrainian ship last month carrying 33 tanks bought by Kenya.

The cargo's manifest appeared to show the tanks were destined for South Sudan, though Kenya has denied this.

Sudan's Suna news agency said the foreign ministry also complained about a plane-load of weapons from Ethiopia.

The weapons had arrived in the South Sudanese capital of Juba on Friday, Suna said.

But officials from Ethiopia and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said the weapons were meant for a previously planned trade fair.

'Violations'

Under the terms of a 2005 peace agreement that ended more than two decades of civil war, any build-up of military equipment has to be approved by a north-south Joint Defence Board.

Suna said that "against the backdrop" of the arms deliveries, the foreign ministry had asked the ambassadors to "inform their governments of its protest at these violations".

Authorities in northern and southern Sudan are reported to be building up their forces ahead of a referendum on independence for the South in 2011.

Ethiopia's Consul General Negash Legesse told Reuters news agency that some weapons from the Ethiopian delivery had been taken to the SPLA for inspection.

"They are samples," he said. "Some Kalashnikovs. Some others that Ethiopia is producing."

The manifest for the delivery of tanks obtained by the BBC carried the letters "GOSS", widely used to mean the Government Of South Sudan.

Diplomatic sources have also said the cargo - still being held off the Somali coast - was to be delivered to South Sudan. But Kenya's foreign minister said it meant General Ordinance Supplies and Security, and that this was a code for the department of defence.
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From Reuters Tuesday, 14 October 2008, by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum -
Sudan summons Kenyan, Ethiopian envoys over arms:
Sudan summoned the Kenyan and Ethiopian 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".

A senior official of the south's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that the south was buying any new equipment from Ethiopia, Kenya or any other country. "We don't have the resources," he told Reuters.

Khartoum's move raised the heat in a row over the shipment of 33 T-72 tanks and other weapons seized by pirates last month off Somalia that western diplomats said were secretly 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.

MILITARY PLANE

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.

The SPLA's Lieutenant General Biar Ajang 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 the 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 north of also re-arming, and of breaching the terms of a U.N. arms embargo covering the warring parties in the separate Darfur conflict.
Sudan Watch Ed: Check out the report's photo of Sudanese President Al-Bashir. Here in the UK, the sticking up of two fingers in such a way says: F-off (In America, although I can't think why, I seem to recall it being referred to as "flipping the bird"*). However, fingers pointing in such a way, but with palm facing outwards signifies: Peace - or, if held higher: Victory. Being a Brit, Andrew Heavens would have chuckled at seeing a photo of Sudan's president saying F-off! Heh. Unfortunately, I can't publish photos at the moment as I am on temporary dial-up while awaiting switchover to broadband. I'll keep the gem of a photo for posting at a later date. Now, if only I could find a photo of Sudanese rebel leaders sticking up two fingers, I could produce a montage of them all sticking their fingers up at each other - and at the peacekeepers and defenceless women and children of Sudan...
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Peace balls

Note Andrew Heavens' blogpost at Meskel Square 22 September 2008 - Peace balls: "Next stop Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo".
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Beware of "thumbs up" gesture

*Correction: I've just remembered: Americans stick middle finger up only, palm inwards. Maybe the two fingered sign is only a British thing?

Update: I've just looked it up at Wikipedia - check out flipping the bird and the Middle-Eastern equivalent - gulp, it's the Western thumbs up sign for great, OK!

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