South Sudan does not lack weapons despite its complaints that an arms embargo is making it difficult to train new soldiers, the US envoy to the country says.
President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar – who is now first vice-president – formed a unity government in February last year, ending a six-year brutal civil war.
A key part of the agreement ending the conflict was to form a unified 83,000-strong national army, which is yet to be done.
The government says that cadets at various training centres are ready to graduate, but lack weapons to do so because of an embargo imposed on the military by the UN Security Council in 2018.
“The country has a persistent food shortage, but there is no weapons shortage – there is a weapons surplus,” US Ambassador Larry André said.
“So this idea that the UN Security Council must lift the arms embargo in order for the peace agreement to be fully implemented because there’s not enough guns in your country, that is not what I have seen, I have seen a lot of guns,” he said.
UN human rights experts say there are still staggering levels of violence continuing in South Sudan where armed militias are divided along ethnic lines.