Ethiopian Airlines, the largest carrier in Africa, has said that a recent weapons shipment to Sudan was legal.
The carrier on Monday said it was responding to “false” news reports made by Sudanese state-owned SUNA news agency.
According to SUNA, Sudanese authorities seized a shipment of weapons at Khartoum airport after arriving from neighboring Ethiopia on Saturday.
The media outlet reported that the Ethiopian Airlines passenger flight came from Addis Ababa.
The shipment of 72 boxes containing weapons and night-vision binoculars was immediately confiscated by Sudan’s customs authorities, it said.
“Without prior warning, authorities in Addis Ababa allowed for its shipping into Khartoum on a passenger flight. There are suspicions that these weapons were intended to be used in crimes against the state, impeding the democratic transition and preventing the transition to the civil state,” SUNA reported while citing Sudanese authorities.
But Ethiopian Airlines now says the shipment of weapons was done legally and that all the items came with proper accompanying documents from the shipper and consignee.
“As we have got clearance from Ethiopian security authorities after completing the due verification process, we shipped them to the consignee in Sudan” the airline said today.
“We have all the documentation that proves the legality of the shipment including a letter from the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs” it added.
As for a consignment of hunting guns, Ethiopian Airlines noted that the consignee had sued Ethiopian Airlines in a Sudanese court, compelling the carrier to either deliver them or pay close to $250,000 as compensation.
Sudanese media had quoted a member of the country’s Dismantling Committee as saying that “the weapons arrived in Ethiopia from Russia in May 2019.”
However, Ethiopian Airlines has refuted this, saying the hunting guns were held by Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa for some time pending verification before being flown to Khartoum.
The incident comes amid rising tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia.
Sudan has a long territorial dispute with Ethiopia over the 750 km-long shared border, with most boundaries not clearly marked on the ground. The task of demarcating the disputed border has not been successful despite long efforts by both sides.
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