3, November 2016
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has accused the United Nations of covering up its failure to establish peace in South Sudan by blaming a Kenyan commander in charge of the UN forces in the conflict-stricken country. Kenyatta said on Thursday that the UN was “scapegoating” Kenyan forces deployed to South Sudan for the failings of its mission in the country, known as UNMISS.
“We know that the people of this region want peace in South Sudan. But we also know that peace will not come to South Sudan by blaming a Kenyan commander for the wider failings of the mission to South Sudan,” said Kenyatta.
The harsh criticism came two days after the UN sacked Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki as the head of UNMISS, saying the results of a probe into his response to the fighting in South Sudan in July were “chaotic and ineffective”. The UN said soldiers killed civilians, looted warehouses and raped women, including foreign aid workers, during the escalated wave of violence in the capital, Juba.
Kenyatta, however, rejected the findings and said that Kenya would pull out its troops from South Sudan in protest at the UN statements. “We will no longer contribute to a mission that has failed to meet its mandate, and which has now resorted to scapegoating Kenyans,” Kenyatta said, adding, “Serving does not come at the expense of the country’s dignity.”
Kenyatta’s angry remarks followed a Wednesday statement by the Kenyan Foreign Ministry which announced Ondieki’s dismissal but said soldiers would be withdrawn and Kenya would disengage from its mediator role in the peace process for South Sudan.
Kenya has more than 1,000 troops in South Sudan. The troops are part of the 13,000-strong force of UN Mission in South Sudan. It had also agreed to contribute to a proposed 4,000-strong “regional protection force” intended to bolster UNMISS.