A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said weapons recovered by Kenyan authorities from a ship docked at Mombasa were legitimate equipment meant for Indian peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The weapons found in the shipment by the Kenyan authorities were part of a legitimate and declared Contingent Owner Equipment cargo packed in Mumbai, India with destination the Indian Battalion of MONUSCO, DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo]”, the UN stated.
However, Kenyan police continued to suggest that illegal weapons may have been concealed amidst the legitimate cargo, claiming weapons not in use with Indian Army, like United States-made M-60 machine-guns.
Francis Wanjohi, Mombasa’s police chief, said all twenty crew on the ship, carrying 257 trucks and armoured personnel carriers for United Nations troops, would be charged with trafficking.
Blaming the controversy on a bureaucratic error, the United Nations statement said the “weapons were declared in the bill of lading but not in the manifest”. This, it continued, was because “the list with the weapons was provided by the Indian authorities after the vessel sailed from Mumbai”.
“A request was sent by the UN contractor responsible for the shipment to the Mombasa ship agent to amend the manifest but since this was not possible, a declaration of the weapons accompanying the military vehicles was attached”.
In separate remarks made late on Thursday, United States time, a UN spokesperson in New York told journalists “as far as we can tell, at this point, it looks like it was a clerical error.”
The spokesperson also said white powder Kenyan authorities recovered on the ship may have been anti-humidity powder used to protect rubber parts from rotting on long sea voyages.
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