Juba has denied issuing the former president of the Central African Republic (CAR) a South Sudanese passport after a U.N. panel made the charge against Francois Bozize, who has been sanctioned for alleged crimes against humanity.
Late last month, the U.N. Panel of Experts on the CAR informed the U.N. Security Council that Bozize is likely traveling with counterfeit documents, including a South Sudanese passport bearing the name Samuel Peter Mudde with passport number D-0000-2284.
Bozize is one of 11 people sanctioned by the Security Council for allegedly committing crimes against humanity during the anti-Balaka and the ex-Seleka violence in the Central African Republic in 2014. The sanctions include a travel ban and asset freezes.
Copy of passport
In early February, the U.N. Security Council obtained from Kenyan authorities a copy of a passport used by Bozize. It was issued in the name of Samuel Peter Mudde after Bozize visited Kenya.
The U.N. panel said it used facial recognition software to confirm Bozize used the passport.
South Sudan in Focus obtained a copy of the passport and can verify the name on the passport is Samuel Peter Mudde and the photo looked like Bozize. The issuing authority is listed as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Juba.
Passports in South Sudan are normally issued by the Ministry of Interior. The passport holder's occupation is listed as professor, his nationality is listed as South Sudanese. The passport is dated June 11, 2013, and expired in June 2017.
South Sudan foreign affairs spokesman Mawien Makol Arik insisted that the country does not issue diplomatic passports to foreigners.
"What we are saying here is that we are not aware of any passport given to Bozize," Arik told VOA.
Passport issued in error?
He said he did not rule out the possibility that some individuals in South Sudan may have issued the diplomatic passport to the former CAR president.
"If there is any error that happened that the state person abused a diplomatic passport in a way that authorities are not aware of, that has to be dealt with by the laws of South Sudan," he said. "We are only to issue passports to citizens of South Sudan and in case of any mistake that happened committed by individuals, people in the country to issue a passport to a person who is not a citizen, of course there are laws and regulations that govern that kind of a mistake."
In a February 8 letter to South Sudan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the U.N. expert panel requested information about the passport used by Bozize. It stated that the South Sudan government has yet to respond to its inquiries.
Arik said the South Sudan foreign affairs ministry has not received any formal request for such information.
Bozize has been living in Uganda for the past few years. In late June, Uganda asked the Security Council's Panel of Experts to "assist and relocate Mister Bozizé to a third country to avoid any speculation or implication " surrounding Bozize's passport, which apparently had been issued in South Sudan.