, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3 – A day after Kenya withdrew its troops and disengaged from the South Sudan peace process, the United Nations headquarters in New York said it was in receipt of the notification and, “respected,” it.
According to a UN Peacekeeping official in New York, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, would engage with the Government of Kenya to discuss the modalities of the withdrawal.
“This is the prerogative of the Kenyan Government and we respect it. We will now consult with the Kenyan Government regarding the modalities of withdrawal of its contingent,” the official stated.
The United Nations said it appreciated Kenya’s “long-standing relationship with UN Peacekeeping,” and the “contribution and the sacrifices its troops.
The outgoing Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, dismissed Lt. General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki as Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan on basis that he failed to protect people of South Sudan.
The recommendation to dismiss Ondieki stemmed from a report covering the crisis that began in Juba in July 2016, a few days after Ondieki’s appointment in May 2016.
“On the uniformed side, the Force did not operate under a unified command, resulting in multiple and sometimes conflicting orders to the four troop contingents from China, Ethiopia, Nepal and India, and ultimately under using the more than 1,800 infantry troops at UN House.”
An excerpt from the report also concluded that; “the Mission failed to respond to the situation at Terrain camp, located 1.2 kilometers from UN House. When Government soldiers forcibly entered Terrain camp on July 11; there were approximately 70 civilians in the camp.”
In protest of UN’s’ decision to dismiss Ondieki, the Government of Kenya on Wednesday withdrew its troops and disengaged from the South Sudan Peace process – a process that it initiated and owned for decades.
Kenya has 995 of its soldiers deployed in Wau, 166 in Aweil and 304 in Kuajok – which are all the hotspots of violence in South Sudan.
It has 30 staff officers and 12 military observers in the three key areas.
Machar Spokesman arrested in Nairobi
Meanwhile, Dr Riek Machar’s Spokesman James Gatdet was on Thursday held at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi following his arrest on Wednesday.
Gatdet was picked from his home in Lavington and the reasons were not immediately known.
Prior to the arrest, he had sent a press release on behalf of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) endorsing the position taken by the UN to dismiss Ondieki.
“We welcome the change in the UNMISS Force Command in South Sudan. The peacekeepers failed to protect civilians during the crisis right in the capital, Juba, and in other parts of the country, more notably also in Malakal. We hope that a new Force Commander will be appointed soon who will be more responsive and take actions to protect the civilians at risk in exercising their mandate,” Gatdet stated.
Whereas Gatdet risked deportation back to Juba, he was concerned over his security citing the strained relationship between his boss Dr Machar and President Salva Kiir.