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Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 11:02 UK

Sudan summons envoys over weapons

Faina, the seized ship (Pic: Digital Seas.com)
The pirates are still holding the shipload of tanks off the Somali coast

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.

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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.


SEE ALSO
Kiev urged to pay pirate ransom
14 Oct 08 |  Europe
Life in Somalia's pirate town
18 Sep 08 |  Africa

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