The first batch of 100 soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) arrived in the country from Juba yesterday following a diplomatic row between Kenya and the UN over the sacking of Lt Gen Johnson Ondieki as the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) commander.
The soldiers were part of troops seconded to UNMISS in Wau region and were received by the commander of KDF’s Eastern Command Maj Gen Benjamin Biwott and Military spokesman Lt Col Paul Njuguna.
The government announced plans to withdraw all the over 1000 troops from South Sudan last week saying that UNMISS “suffers from fundamental structural and systemic dysfunctionality, which has severely hindered its ability to discharge its mandate since its inception” and it was unfair to attribute the shortcomings on Ondieki with president Uhuru reiterating that Kenya would not contribute to a mission that had failed in its own mandate.
“Peace will not come to South Sudan by blaming a Kenyan commander for the wider failings of the mission,” Uhuru said.
A special UN investigation released prior to Ondieki’s dismissal blamed him and a “lack of leadership” in UNMISS for the “chaotic and ineffective response” to the violence in the capital Juba in July that left civilians killed and aid workers raped.
UNMISS was established on 8 July 2011 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1996 (2011) with the aim of Supporting peace consolidation in South Sudan.
The South Sudan government termed the decision to dismiss the Kenyan commander “unceremonious and unfortunate” and asked the United Nations to reconsider the decision with the Minister for Information, Communication and Technology Michael Makuel Lueth saying that his government was cognizant of the key role Kenya plays in peace process in South Sudan and particularly through UNIMISS.
“It is on this basis that the Government requests the UN to reconsider its decision, including consulting widely and appropriately with the Government of the Republic of Kenya,” Lueth said.