Kenya to withdraw from UN South Sudan peacekeeping mission 0

Kenya says it will withdraw from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dismissed the Kenyan commander of the mission over its failure to protect civilians. The Kenyan Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the country would “withdraw, immediately” its forces from South Sudan in reaction to Ban’s decision.

On Tuesday, the UN secretary general dismissed and called for the immediate replacement of Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki in reaction to a damning report that showed the failure of the mission to protect civilians and the UN staff during the deadly violence that erupted in the capital Juba in July.

The ministry said it had been informed “with dismay” of Ban’s decision, adding, “The continued deployment of (Kenya’s) troops in South Sudan is no longer tenable and is inimical to their safety and well-being.” It also accused the UN of failing to address the shortcomings of the peacekeeping mission, known as UNMISS. An independent UN inquiry released on Tuesday found that UNMISS had failed to respond to repeated pleas for help from aid workers under attack just a few minutes’ drive away.

A peacekeeper from Nepal deployed by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) patrols outside the premises of the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Juba, South Sudan, October 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

According to the summary of the report, General Ondieki lacked the proper leadership of the mission that “culminated in a chaotic and ineffective response to the violence.” Kenya rebuked the dismissal as lacking transparency and consultation.

“This action is not only wrong but also insulates the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) from the hard questions it needs to answer, and the responsibility it must shoulder to facilitate the proper management of UNMISS,” the Kenyan Foreign Ministry said.

Kenya contributed about 1,000 troops to UNMISS, which is composed of nearly 16,000 soldiers. The ministry added that Kenya would also “discontinue plans to contribute to the Regional Protection Force, and … disengage from the South Sudan peace process.”

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, but descended into war in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir accused the former vice president, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup to usurp power. Numerous international attempts to reach a truce between the warring sides have failed.