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Kenya Pulling UN Peacekeepers from South Sudan in Protest

Kenya is pulling out its 1,000 troops deployed to South Sudan as part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission and stopping future deployments after the U.N. secretary-general fired the force's Kenyan commander, the foreign affairs ministry said Wednesday
By The News · 02 of November 2016 19:14:24
In this photo taken Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) force commander Lt. Gen. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki of Kenya (R), stands next to Ellen Loj (C), Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, and an unidentified member of South Sudan's government, left, as they await a delegation of U.N. Security Council members, in Juba, South Sudan, No available, photo: AP/Justin Lynch

NAIROBI, Kenya — In a further blow to regional efforts to calm the civil war, Kenya said it is also disengaging from the South Sudan peace process, in which it has been instrumental as a broker, guarantor and monitor.

The firing of Kenyan Lt. Gen. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki came after an independent investigation sharply criticized peacekeepers’ response to deadly attacks in July on a U.N. compound housing 27,000 displaced people in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. The probe also found that peacekeepers didn’t respond to calls for help as South Sudanese soldiers rampaged through a nearby compound popular with foreigners.

The firing was announced shortly after the investigators’ report was released Tuesday.

Kenya has a little over 1,000 troops in the U.N. peacekeeping force in South Sudan, according to authorities. Kenya also had pledged to contribute troops for an additional 4,000 peacekeepers, whose deployment remains uncertain amid opposition from some South Sudan officials.

No more, Kenya’s foreign ministry said Wednesday. A statement attributed to Principal Secretary Monica Juma said the process of firing Ondieki lacked transparency, without formal consultation with Kenya’s government. It said the move “revealed a high degree of disrespect for our country.”

The statement blamed the shortcomings of the peacekeeping force on the U.N.’s department of peacekeeping operations, saying the mission in South Sudan “suffers from fundamental structural and systemic dysfunctionality, which has severely hindered its ability to discharge its mandate.”

Kenya also rejected the offer to nominate a replacement for Ondieki, the statement said.

A spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in South Sudan, Shantal Persuad, said the mission had not received any formal communication regarding Kenya’s pullout. The spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric, said he had no information about the pullout.