South Sudan grounds UN planes in airport row

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Reuters
Tue, 2017-08-22 21:47
ID: 
1503338105159367100

NAIROBI: South Sudan has grounded planes belonging to UN peacekeepers in a dispute over control of the airport in the capital Juba, the government said on Monday.
The move threatens to further delay the deployment of the latest 4,000 peacekeepers to be assigned to South Sudan, where civil war broke out in 2013.
“It was because the forces that were brought went to the airport to control the airport, which is not part of their mandate,” President Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said, explaining the decision to stop UN flights.
“They cannot come here to control our airport. It is our airport and if they wanted to cooperate with us, they must refrain from (deploying in) places they are not authorized.”
Government forces are currently in control of the airport. UN officials said later in the day they had resumed the flights after the government started approving them.
“Clearances are now being issued and UNMISS’ normal operations to protect civilians and build durable peace in South Sudan have resumed,” the UN mission (UNMISS) said.
The UN Security Council agreed in August last year to deploy the so-called regional protection force (RPF) of 4,000 extra peacekeepers, mostly from Rwanda and Ethiopia, after renewed fighting broke out between troops loyal to Kiir and those backing former Vice President Riek Machar.
The RPF was to supplement a 12,000-strong UN force already on the ground, but South Sudan has been reluctant to accept it, saying it has reservations over the nationalities of the troops and the armaments they can carry.
A small batch started trickling in three months ago, but diplomats said the latest dispute could bring further delays.

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