Top Gun. General Museveni greeting the mystery fighter pilot who runs military strikes for Salva Kiir?
In its scathing Final Report, a United Nations Panel of Experts has recommended an arms embargo on South Sudan; the report lays much of the blame for the ongoing atrocities, displacement of millions, and man-made famine on President Salva Kiir and his chief of military staff.
What’s more, even as 100,000 South Sudanese starve to death and one million more face hunger in the on-going conflict which first started in 2013 President Kiir had embarked on a world-wide arms shopping spree–from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Seychelles.
One contract signed in 2014 was valued at $264 million with a Seychelles-based company for 30 T-55 tanks, 10 BM-21 “Grad” rocket systems, anti-aircraft weapons and 20 million rounds of 7.62×39-mm ammunition.
The current conflict escalated beginning last year when Kiir ousted his vice president Riek Machar.
The Panel of Experts’ report says weapons continue to reach South Sudan from neighboring countries. “Reports from independent sources indicate that the border areas between South Sudan and the Sudan and Uganda remain key entry points for arms, with some unsubstantiated reports of smaller numbers of weapons also crossing into South Sudan from the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” states the report. “There are also persistent reports and public accusations of shipments to forces affiliated with the leadership in Juba from further afield, specifically from Egypt. “
The Panel is investigating whether jet planes acquired from the Ukraine and flown to Uganda were used for military strikes in South Sudan. A Hungarian pilot, Tibor Czingáli, who flies aircraft for South Sudan’s combat runs is also contracted with the Ugandan Airforce. Another plane with obscured markings is parked at Juba airport, according to the report.
The Panel of Experts continue investigating whether Egypt has also supplied arms to South Sudan.
The report says supporters of ousted Vice President Machar have also tried to acquire light-arms from European arms dealers.
The report was forwarded by the Panel of Experts to member nations of the U.N. Security Council on April 13, The Black Star News has learned. BSN couldn’t get comment from the U.N. tonight or from the U.S. Department of State.
On at least one occasion a mission to purportedly procure arms for Kiir’s military was apparently a ruse to embezzle more than $7 million and no weapons were purchased, states the report.
The Panel states that the regional governments that had been mediating between Kiir and Machar under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) have become partisan and look more towards addressing their own national interests. When Machar, who was ousted by kiir last July, tried to return from his South African exile to South Sudan he was blocked by Ethiopia and Sudan in November. Both countries said they were pressured by the Obama administration at the time, says the U.N. Panel Experts’ report.
“Kiir replaced Machar as First Vice-President with Deng Gai in July 2016, in contravention of the Agreement,” states the report, referring to the August 2015 deal that had paired Kiir and Machar as president and first vice president, respectively in a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). “Deng Gai’s influence is limited and strategic decisions continue to be made largely by Kiir,” the report states and also notes: “There is also a perception among the opposition and much of civil society, in addition to many international observers, that the leadership suppresses dissent.”
“The de facto collapse of the transitional government of national unity…” states the experts’ report, “has left South Sudan with a political arrangement between the President, Salva Kiir, and the First Vice-President, Taban Deng Gai, that does not meaningfully include significant segments of the opposition, including major armed elements of SPLM/A in Opposition, other political factions and many non-Dinka communities, including large constituencies of the Nuer and the Equatorian tribes and subtribes.”
The report says Kiir has consolidated political and military power with his fellow Dinka ethnic people prompting recent resignations by top military officers who hail from other parts of South Sudan; one of the generals who quit has since announced formation of a new rebel army.
The report says Kiir continues to acquire weapons to pursue an “aggressive” military solution and calls him the “main belligerent.” The report pins responsibility for military operations on President Kiir and his chief of military staff Gen. Paul Malong.
The report notes that both Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) government and Machar’s SPLM/A In-Opposition engaged in atrocities after the unity government collapsed for the first time in 2013. However, the report states, since July 2016, Kiir’s government “remains the main belligerent in the war and continues to accord priority to an aggressive military approach over a political solution to the conflict.”
“While SPLM/A in Government, SPLM/A in Opposition and other armed groups undertook operations, including targeting of civilians, throughout 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, the largest-scale military campaigns during this period have been planned and executed by SPLM/A in Government under the leadership of Kiir,” states the report.
The report says all “available evidence continues to support the Panel’s previous findings of command responsibility within the government, as described in all of its reports in 2016, and of the centrality of Kiir and the SPLA Chief of General Staff, Paul Malong, among others, in planning and executing military operations.”
The Panel of Experts also interviewed the managing director of a Lebanon-based company, Rawmatimpex, who had met with SPLA officials. According to the Panel, the meeting was set up to discuss Gen. Malong’s interest in setting up an ammunitions factory in Luri, east of Juba, in South Sudan. The Panel also interviewed an Egyptian who had set up the meeting. The owner of the company, Louis Farsoun “denied that his company was involved in the manufacture of ammunition or that he had entered into any agreement with SPLA to develop a factory in South Sudan,” states the report.
The Egyptian however “confirmed the details of the meeting and that Malong had requested him to arrange a meeting” in order to “seek the capacity to manufacture ammunition in South Sudan.”
The Panel also obtained a $7,187,500 contract signed in May 2015 by the SPLA and a company called Egypt and Middle East for Development for “Panthera armored vehicles.” A company official informed the Panel that he had arranged meetings in Lebanon in 2015 for South Sudanese military officers working for Gen. Malong. Two sources with first-hand knowledge have provided the Panel with additional background information on this transaction that suggests that the contract may not have been implemented,” states the report. “These sources stated that the drafters of the contract had used it as an embezzlement mechanism. The sources claim that, under the pretext of financing the procurement of weapons, cash had been carried into Egypt by SPLA officers, working at the direction of Malong, and transferred to unnamed associates in Cairo.”
The Panel learned in February 2017, that an IL-76 transport aircraft operated by the Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense left that country on or about January 27, 2017, bound for Gulu, Uganda. The plane’s manifest showed that it carried two L-39 jets and engines.
“Subsequently, the Government of Ukraine confirmed to the Panel that the two jets were listed as being operated by the Ugandan military and that the end user certificates indicated that the aircraft were to be used only for advanced pilot training,” states the report. “Given Czingáli’s roles in both South Sudan and Uganda and photographic evidence of the jet he operated in South Sudan, the Panel is investigating whether jets based in Uganda have been operated in South Sudan, contrary to the provisions of the end user agreement. The Panel is investigating reports that the jets have been involved in military operations in South Sudan.”
The plane photographed via satellite at Juba airport is not one of the two flown from Ukraine to Uganda, states the report. “Witness statements indicate that efforts had been made to obscure its identification markings,” states the report, referring to the Juba-parked plane.
The Panel also interviewed an arrested former Polish army officer, Pierre Dadak, who is now an arms dealer and who travels on a fraudulently-obtained diplomatic passport from Guinea-Bissau. “The investigation uncovered communications between Dadak and his associates and a member of SPLM/A in Opposition between January and June 2014” in which the SPLM/A asked for light arms, including: 40,000 AK-47 rifles; 200,000 boxes of AK-47 ammunition; 30,000 PKM machine guns; 3,000 anti-tank rounds; 300 anti-tank guns; and, 300 anti-aircraft guns.
The report notes that senior military officials who resigned from Kiir’s government include: the Deputy Chief of General Staff of SPLA Lt. Gen. Bapiny Mantuil Wicjang; and, Deputy Chief of General Staff for logistics Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirillo Swaka who on March 6, 2017, announced the establishment of the National Salvation Front, with himself as the Chair and Commander-in-Chief.
The violence once targeting Machar’s ethnic Nuer community has now expanded to other parts of South Sudan. The conflict has displaced 1.9 million people within South Sudan and sent 1.6 million more fleeing into neighboring countries, states the report.
Additionally, inflation skyrocketed to 479% before slipping to 370% in December, 2016. President Kiir’s government faces a budget deficit of $200 million and is seeking a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But the report states that more than 50% of the budget is used on the military or on arms procurement.
(Meanwhile a regional newspaper reports that the cash strapped Kiir government is signing dubious oil deals for needed upfront money.)
The report notes that top individuals involved in the peace process believe the crises won’t be resolved so long as Kiir continues to exclude Machar or his supporters. The report states that Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana, who is Chair of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission of the now collapsed TGoNU agreement, on January 23, 2017, in a briefing to the UN Security Council acknowledged “the lack of genuine representation of [SPLM/A in Opposition] and maintains that inclusively and representation within the political process and representation of all parties within essential institutions and mechanisms of the peace agreement must be re-established as quickly as possible.”
The report says there is widespread skepticism about the “national dialogue” that Kiir called for on December 14, 2016. “Its intended objective notwithstanding, Kiir’s role in the process and perceptions of its lack of inclusivity have been raised by many civil society and opposition figures, in addition to some international observers, as indicative of the lack of goodwill on the part of the leadership,” states the report. The report notes that Alpha Oumar Konaré, the African Union’s High Representative for South Sudan, has said the national dialogue needed a “neutral leader” and quoted his statement that “we cannot go into a meaningful national dialogue without including Dr. Riek Machar in the peace process.”
“The national dialogue process as currently conceptualized does not in fact make any explicit overtures to Riek Machar,” the experts’ report continues, adding that “…some members of the diplomatic community have suggested that a genuinely constituted national dialogue process should involve SPLM/A in Opposition and that Kiir should step aside from his patronage of the process to refute perceptions of his having undue influence.”
“The dominance of Kiir’s faction in the prevailing political arrangement has allowed him and the Dinka political and security elites to maintain overwhelming influence over the political and security dynamics of the country…” states the report.
“This has resulted in the continuation of unilateral actions and rule by presidential decree, in contravention of both the Agreement and the transitional Constitution, such as Kiir’s decision on 14 January 2017 to raise the number of states to 32, beyond the already controversial 28 states decreed in October 2015, which the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) had condemned.”
The traditional King of the Shilluk, Kwongo Dak Padiet, released a statement in which he claimed Dinka were “prosecuting the war against all other nationalities, implementing their ideology of Dinka ethnic supremacy” and that Dak Padiet had “indicated that he had requested his lawyers to prepare cases against Kiir, Malong” and other officials, the report says.
Journalists have been detained and threatened by Kiir’s government, says the report. One radio station was temporarily shut after it repeated an interview with Machar that had originally been broadcast on Al Jazeera. The only foreign correspondent in the country, who was with the Associated Press, was expelled.
Kiir’s soldiers also have harassed aid workers and U.N. peace-keeping soldiers, and continue to block food relief, states the report.
After the Panel of Experts’ preliminary report and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned incitement to violence by Kiir’s supporters on social media, such activities declined or migrated to platforms protected behind firewalls, notes the final report.
The report also states that some assets within South Sudan, that belong to four top officials who have already been subjected to U.N. sanctions in the form of asset freeze, have been identified and that contacts have been made to determine additional holdings with local and regional banks.
The report notes that some South Sudanese supporters of Machar exiled in Kenya, including SPLM/A In- Opposition spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, were arrested and repatriated.
“The deportation was in violation of the countrys commitment to the principle of non-refoulement under international refugee law,” states the report. “Subsequently, in January 2017, two South Sudanese citizens, Aggrey Idri, a member of SPLM/A in Opposition, and Dong Samuel Luak, a prominent South Sudanese human rights lawyer, disappeared in Nairobi.”
The report states that some Kenyan politicians, including Weston Wanjohi Wahome “have in fact campaigned against South Sudanese opposition groups.” The report states that when Gatdet Dak was repatriated “Wahome taunted him on Facebook..” by posting “say hi to Mathiang Anyoor!” The report added that “His Facebook page regularly posts other veiled threats and incitement…”
Mathiang Anyoor is reputedly a militia President Kiir has used against opponents. The report contains several captured screenshots of the alleged threatening Facebook posting by Weston Wanjohi Wahome.
The report concludes that “to demonstrate the Security Council’s resolve in supporting an inclusive and sustainable peace in South Sudan and to prevent the further destabilization of the security situation, the expansion and extension of the conflict, the continuing large-scale human rights violations” that “the Security Council impose an embargo on the supply, sale or transfer of arms and related materiel to South Sudan.”
The Panel of Experts also asked the Security Council to inform the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek “the full legal and forensic support necessary to execute effectively its mandate to collect, preserve and analyse evidence of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law…”
The IGAD States members are to also be informed of their obligation to enforce the travel ban and asset freeze established on sanctioned South Sudanese officials.
Four of five sanctioned South Sudan officials have assets in the country, according to the report. They are: Peter Gadet Dak, identified in a shareholder in Nile Super-Transport Company Ltd. with shares worth $175,000; Gabriel Jok Riak, shareholder in Zenith Company Ltd. and Haks Sudan Ltd., with shares worth $125,000; and, Marial Chanuong Yol Mangok, with 25% of shares in Nyamlel Petroleum Company Ltd.