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Ghanaian peacekeepers in S.Sudan waiting for weaponsPublish Date: May 17, 2014
Ghanaian peacekeepers in S.Sudan waiting for weapons
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A South Sudanese soldier stands with a South Sudan flag in his boot during a parade to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Sudan People Liberations Army/Movement (SPLA/M) forming at the Dr John Garang memorial mausoleum in Juba on May 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO
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ACCRA - Ghana's military said on Friday that its troops deployed as peacekeepers in South Sudan have been left without weapons after a seizure by the local authorities.

Armed Forces spokesman M'Bawine Atintande said it was unclear how many of the 300 Ghanaian troops serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were affected.

A Ghanaian delegation, including the deputy minister of defence, was travelling to South Sudan on Friday to negotiate for the release of equipment.

"Some of them (the peacekeeping troops) have weapons but there's some small technical issues," Atintande told AFP. "That is why the delegation is going for us to know exactly what is happening."

"Some (peacekeepers) in certain locations don't even have their equipment because the things have not moved to their place," he added.

Ghana deployed peacekeepers to South Sudan in January as fighting broke out between government forces and rebels loyal to the former vice-president Riek Machar.

Nearly a million people have fled the conflict and thousands have been killed in the oil-rich country.

Ghanaian troops were deployed to South Sudan from UN duties in Ivory Coast and a further 550 troops will join those already on the ground, the presidency has said.

UNMISS commander Delali Johnson Sakyi said in March that containers containing the Ghanaian troops' weapons were brought in by road, in contravention of South Sudanese rules to transport arms by air.

The containers were also improperly labelled, he added.

After the weapons' discovery, South Sudanese officials claimed that the UN was trying to arm the rebels, leading to protests against the world body on the streets of the capital, Juba.

The UN announced that the weapons would be released last month after discussions between Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.

A decision was taken to send a delegation to South Sudan after the containers were impounded again this week and a meeting with the country's ambassador to Accra, said defence spokesman Mark Woyongo.

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