Tanks on the move in weapons saga

The saga continues to unfold concerning the T-72 tanks that arrived in February after 4 months in the hands of Somali pirates.

eldoret_sudan_highway

With the whole world convinced that Kenya was helping the government of Southern Sudan bust a United Nations arms embargo, the Kenya Army laid claim to the weapons. Top military commanders said that the tanks were part of an arms acquisition programme and that Kenyan crews had even been trained in use of the tanks.

Most analysts knew that it was only a matter of time before the tanks began the journey to their real destination: Southern Sudan. The predictions seem to have come true, with reports that a column of tanks has been seen in the northern Rift Valley province in the past week. This is where the highway to Sudan passes through.

Defence spokesman Bogita Ongeri, however denies claims that the tanks were heading to Southern Sudan. Instead, Bogita said that the tanks were being transported to participate in “military exercises” in the northern Rift Valley districts.

What makes the events interesting is a visit to Kenya by a top official of the Southern Sudan administration at around the same time. Rumours indicate that the Sudanese official had arrived to “inspect” the tanks. The Kenyan government, of course, denied the claims.

Despite repeated statements by the government, most people in Kenya are convinced that the tanks belong to Southern Sudan. Kenya traditionally sources its weapons from Western countries and shifting to Russian weaponry would signify a major shift in military strategy.

A ship carrying the 33 tanks was hijacked by Somali pirates in September 2008. If it wasn’t for the pirates, its highly likely that the weapons would have been in Sudan by now. After all, it was not the first time that Russian built tanks had been delivered to Mombasa in preceding months. The previous consignments were secretly shipped to Southern Sudan.

The ship, the MV Faina, was finally released in February 2009 after its owners paid millions of dollars as ransom to the Somali pirates holding it. The ship’s captain died during the 4 month captivity.

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4 Responses

  1. Not so sure those tanks are not Kenyan. Remember when the UK lost the bid to supply landrovers to Japan’s toyota landcruisers? and navy ships to Spain. and their violent anti-Kibaki reaction calling our navy the Spanish armada?

    Well, check out this article:
    http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/545574/-/u3516j/-/index.html
    and the comment:
    Submitted by somoinaa
    Posted March 15, 2009 08:54 AM

    Persons in our Military will attest this presence of oil in Northern Kenya from personal knowledge of the evidence. And our War Games have components for include full-scale defensive operations in the north from invasion by Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia. Because African Wars are proxy-resources conflicts, to exploit the Northern Resources demand a capacity to defending them – and hence the recent aggressive build-up of our Armoured Division, our Anti-tank Air Calvary capacity and robust Ground Support Air-wing, and strategic Combat interceptor Aircraft. Does the T-72 saga clarify now? Shut up and let us do our thing for you civilians!!

  2. How is it possible for this rag newspaper to make such statements you do with such conviction? That “most people in kenya believe the tanks are meant for Southern Sudan””? that “a senior Southern Sudan Military type was in the country to inspect their tanks”. Are you not to quote a name and designation of your sources? This is what defines your paper in terms that are contemptous and discredit your content and intentions. All you need to do is make some little effort to authenticate your stories, seek clarifications and do some minor research, and your paper would then be worthy a read.
    Tom ole Nkarei, Major, kenya Army

  3. Any proof that these tanks have actually crossed the border?
    If so then provide the necessary evidence for people to believe your content and to take you seriously in future. How many were the tanks that were seen, when and where did they cross the border?

  4. The tanks seen near Eldoret where the older Vickers Mk3 that Kenya has used since 1979. They were not T-72s, so this whole “news” piece is wrong.

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