A significant majority of weapons in Sudan—two million to be precise—are outside of government control and in the hands of civilians, mostly in the South, says Small Arms Survey in a report released yesterday. This proliferation is a result of a spike in arms acquisition by both North and South ruling parties, in what the organization say is increasingly looking like an “arms race” in the lead up to elections in April.
Arms imports to the Khartoum-based ruling National Congress Party, in particular, have jumped, from 1 million in 2001 to more than 23 million in 2008. According to customs data supplied to the U.N., 90 percent of these imports were supplied by China and Iran.
The southern ruling party’s, or SPLM’s, arms capabilities remain “dwarfed” by those of the NCP and its military. The report said: “More than just the quantitative advantage, the quality, sophistication, and condition of the weapons held by Khartoum are considerably better overall than those held by the SPLA.”
The NCP’s official security forces possess an estimated 470,000 small arms and light weapons, as compared to the SPLM’s 200,000.
When tracing the arms supply chain of major non-state armed groups, three out of five identified patterns originated from the NCP, “whether through deliberate supply, negligence, or via armed engagement,” the group said.
These sobering figures are a reiteration of what will happen if coordinated international efforts to prod Sudanese parties forward in the peace process do not begin immediately—a return to all-out war.
Photo: Armed men in Sudan.