January 25, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - A team from the Indonesian police is expected to arrive in Khartoum on Thursday to follow investigations with Indonesian peacekeepers accused of smuggling weapons upon leaving Sudan, said Sudan’s Foreign Ministry.
On 20 January, the government of North Darfur state arrested Indonesian soldiers belonging to the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) for carrying smuggled arms upon leaving El-Fasher airport.
The hybrid mission said “a number of weapons and military-related items were found by UNAMID Security in some checked-in luggage” of the Indonesian contingent during its routine rotation from El Fasher airport, pointing that an investigation was launched and relevant Sudanese authorities were immediately informed.
On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gharib Allah Khidir said the Indonesian ambassador to Khartoum Burhan Ul-Din Badr al-Zaman has met with the Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdel-Ghani al-Nai’m and told him that the team would arrive in Khartoum within hours to follow the investigation.
Al-Nai’m said the government welcomes the team, praising Indonesia’s participation in efforts to promote peace in Darfur through the UNAMID, adding “the record of the Indonesian peacekeepers was marked by discipline and good conduct”.
Meanwhile, Indonesia Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said Tuesday the initial information they received was that the luggage did not belong to the Indonesian police unit and the U.N. is currently conducting an investigation.
He said that weapon-smuggling allegations levelled at Indonesian police officers returning from a peacekeeping mission in Sudan are marred with inconsistencies.
“With regard to the case in Sudan, we have information on the incident, [and] there are a number of inconsistencies in the details we received early on. The United Nations are currently conducting an investigation,” he said.
Nasir added that a team from the national police was set to leave for Khartoum to seek answers and provide legal assistance to the detainees.
Also, the Indonesian police spokesman Martinus Sitompul confirmed that 139 peacekeepers were currently being held in Sudan after local authorities had accused them of attempting to smuggle weapons.
He denied that the Indonesian contingent has attempted to smuggle weapons.
“Airport officials asked several times whether the entire pile belonged to the Indonesian personnel, to which the police personnel repeatedly said ‘no’,” Martinus told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Monday.
The hybrid mission has been deployed in Darfur since December 2007 with a mandate to stem violence against civilians in the western Sudan’s region.
It is the world’s second largest international peacekeeping force with an annual budget of $1.35 billion and almost 20,000 troops.
UN agencies say there are nearly 2.5 million displaced persons in Darfur, despite the signing of peace agreement in Doha in July 2011.