South Sudan says to graduate forces despite arms embargo renewal

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JUBA, May 27 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's transitional unity government said Friday it will go ahead and graduate the 83,000 unified forces despite Thursday's United Nations Security Council resolution extending arms embargo until 2023.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Michael Makuei Lueth said Resolution 2633, adopted at the Security Council on Thursday extending arms embargo and individual sanctions until May 31, 2023, will not affect the ongoing peace process.

"It is not going to affect the peace process, and it will not affect the security arrangements, we will continue with implementation of the revitalized peace agreement," he told Xinhua in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

"This is what they want. They do not want the implementation of peace. They want things to move as they are now so that they continue to benefit," he said.

The UN Security Council on Thursday adopted Resolution 2633 to renew for a year an arms embargo against South Sudan as well as targeted sanctions of travel ban and asset freeze against individuals and entities.

The resolution, which was adopted with 10 votes in favor and five abstentions, also extends the mandate of the Panel of Experts, which assists the work of the South Sudan Sanctions Committee, till July 1, 2023.

China, Gabon, India, Kenya, and Russia abstained.

In July 2018, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo and individual sanctions on South Sudan following years of conflict.

Makuei had previously said that the existing arms embargo was delaying the graduation of the unified forces on time to take charge of security during the current transitional period, which ends in February next year.

"We are going to graduate the forces with sticks," he said. "The preparations are underway now."

On Thursday, the South Sudan foreign ministry expressed "displeasure against" the latest UN Security Council resolution, saying the sanctions are counter-productive.

In a statement, the foreign ministry praised China, Gabon, India, Kenya, and Russia for abstaining from the vote.

"These countries understand that the United Nation's vision of world peace requires that sovereign nations respect one another as equals," the statement said. "They stand in solidarity with the people of South Sudan, for whom these sanctions are a cruel policy with no clear intention." Enditem

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