Kenyan government withdraws troops from South Sudan

Kenya has announced the withdrawal of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops from South Sudan, a day after the sacking of UNMSS force Commander Lt. General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki.

In a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, the government expressed its dismay in the manner in which the United Nations and its Independent Special Investigation handled investigations into the conduct of peacekeepers during an attack on civilians by South Sudanese government troops in Juba.

The report indicated that United Nations peacekeepers had failed to respond to an attack on civilians by South Sudanese government troops at the Hotel Terrain in the capital Juba in July, less than a mile from a U.N. compound.

“During the attack, civilians were subjected to and witnessed gross human rights violations, including murder, intimidation, sexual violence and acts amounting to torture perpetrated by armed government soldiers,” it further stated.

The inquiry into the attack further revealed that despite multiple requests by the U.N. mission’s joint operations center for peacekeepers to respond to the attack on Hotel Terrain, each “contingent turned down the request, indicating their troops were fully committed.”

“After nearly four hours, South Sudan’s National Security Service extracted most of the civilians. However three female international aid workers were left behind and the inquiry said the peacekeeping mission was quickly made aware of this.”

As a result of this, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sacked UNMISS force commander in South Sudan, Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki of Kenya and announced for his immediate replacement, a move that has not augured well with the Kenyan government.

“The Government of Kenya is convinced that the manner in which the United Nations and its Independent Special Investigation have handled this grave matter will not address the root causes of the unfortunate incidences in South Sudan nor does it offer a sustainable solution to the recurring violence in South Sudan.”

The government stated that its continued deployment of troops in South Sudan is no longer tenable and is inimical to their safety and well-being.

“It (Kenya) has therefore decided to reject the decision to dismiss Lt. Gen. Johnson Ondieki, as well as the offer to nominate a replacement, Withdraw, immediately, Kenyan troops currently in deployment in South Sudan, and discontinue plans to contribute to the Regional Protection Force, and disengage from the South Sudan Peace Process.”

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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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