Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a United Kingdom based war research agency in its latest report released on Thursday revealed that Uganda supplied military equipment to the republic of Southern Sudan which accelerated conflict for nearly five years.
In a 101 page report, the agency accused the Ugandan government of diverting European procured weapons into war-torn South Sudan which included assault rifles, ammunition and fighter jets.
“Confirming longstanding allegations, CAR field researchers documented ammunition in South Sudan, and with allied forces in neighboring Sudan, that three E.U. states supplied to Uganda in 2014 and 2015,” the report said.
It was indicated in the report that in one case, a network of U.S. and Ugandan companies controlled by British, Israeli, Uganda, and U.S. nationals – with companies registered in Uganda and the U.S. – procured at least one L-39 trainer/ground attack plane from the United States and an Austrian made Diamond DA42 surveillance aircraft.
It was said that the two jets entered the war tone country at different periods of time saying that “The Diamond DA42 entered service with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in 2015 and the L-39 in 2016.”
According to the research agency, researchers were deployed in every region in South Sudan between May 2014 and June 2017, documenting weapon and ammunition holdings of armed groups including the SPLA and SPLA-in Opposition (SPLA-IO), the armed wing of rival Riek Machar’s political movement.
The dossier released on Thursday is the result of a four-year investigation and was released after South Sudan rival leaders signed a peace agreement in September.
The peace deal has since ended the nearly five year conflict in which almost more than 383,000 people were killed.
However, this year in July, the United Nations Security Council imposed new arms embargo on South Sudan, but the ammunition documented by the war research agency indicate that it entered South Sudan much earlier.
Surprisingly, the research findings suggest that neither the original supplier companies, nor the U.S. or Austrian governments were aware that the aircraft specifically might be re-transferred to South Sudan.
“The re-transfer from Uganda to South Sudan may have breached end-use or non-transfer commitments made to exporters as a prior condition of sale,” reads part of the report.
It was also documented that an assortment of 128 weapons ranging from assault rifles, and anti-tank guided weapons to man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and main battle tanks, as well as over 200,000 rounds of ammunition and other military materiel were used in the conflict across South Sudan for the period of over four years.
The report also revealed secret shipments of Sudanese and Chinese-manufactured weapons from Sudan to opposition fighters in South Sudan by air and land from 2014 until mid-2015.
While appearing on Aljazeera on Thursday, South Sudan army spokesperson General Lul Ruai Koang stated that “We did what was required of us to restock, resupply and defend the territorial integrity and to defend the democratic government from being toppled using illegal means.”
The equipment was purchased, “whether it came through Uganda or not, we had a legitimate cost, we had a good reason at a time South Sudan was fighting the rebellion,” Koang added.
Koang also said that South Sudan is a sovereign state and has the right to enter into contractual deals with any country it wishes for supply of weapons.
The report says Israel stopped supplying weapons to South Sudan in 2013, but China shipped large quantities of weapons and ammunition in 2014, the United Arab Emirates shipped armored personnel carriers in 2014 and Ukraine sent weapons in 2014 and 2016.
Efforts to reach Mr Ofwono Opondo the Uganda government spokesperson to give comment were futile as he could not be reached.
Uganda signed a military and defense cooperation agreement with South Sudan in October 2014.
In the agreement Kampala committed to procure arms for Juba sanctioned by the UN and EU.
The bilateral agreement was however transcendent by the regional IGAD peace agreement of August 2015, which ceased escalation of hostilities and member states also committed to stop military support to either side of the conflict.