, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13 – State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu says the Government’s move to withdraw from South Sudan peace process will not hamper negatively on its international standing.
Esipisu says Kenya values its dignity and sovereignty, which has been challenged through the sacking of a Kenyan commander without consultations.
His message to the UN is ‘choices have consequences.’
“A country must decide where it stands with its people, where it stands with its dignity and where it stands with its sovereignty. If someone is going to take a decision, a Kenyan commander without consulting Kenyans, that person has to accept consequences from the Republic of Kenya,” he asserted.
During his weekly briefings at State House, Esipisu dismissed the critics of the move terming it as ‘baseless.’
“Ignorance is a bad thing. Ask yourself where we were before this administration took office,” he said. “We have made such giant strides in our international standing.”
He explained that Kenya has only detached itself from activities of United Nations Mission in South Sudan but will continue pushing for peace process in the troubled neighbouring state through other regional means.
“The President has repeatedly said that our obligation to the people of South Sudan remains in place and we will work with them bilaterally …what we will not do, is work with them as part of UNMISS for the simple reason that anyone who disrespect you is not worth of your respect,” he said.
Earlier in the month, Kenya took the decision to not only pull its troops out of South Sudan but disengage itself from the peace process after the Kenyan who’d been in UNMISS command was unceremoniously relieved of his duties.
Kenya had been asked to nominate a replacement but it declined to do so after finding that Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki was unfairly sacked.
The Kenyan government also took issue with the manner in which the decision was communicated with President Kenyatta himself saying that Kenya’s dignity would not be sacrificed on the altar of service.
While the UN said it respected Kenya’s decision the US and the South Sudan government implored President Kenyatta’s administration to reconsider.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon took the decision to sack Ondieki on November 1, five months after elevating him to the position, on receiving a special report on atrocities committed in the five-year-old nation in July.
“The Secretary-General has received Major General (retired) Patrick Cammaert’s report on the Independent Special Investigation into the violence in Juba in July 2016 and the actions of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), including its response to acts of sexual violence in and around the Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites at UN House and the attack on the Terrain camp.
Kenya maintains the commander was unfairly targeted.
According to the UN boss, the Special Investigation found that UNMISS did not respond effectively to the violence due to an overall lack of leadership, preparedness and integration among the various components of the mission.”
Kenya however, felt that it was not fair for it all to fall on Lt General Ondieki’s head given he had been in command for only a month before the aforementioned took place and was for all intents and purposes still finding his bearings given his predecessor completed his assignment in June.
Kenya had approximately 1,500 of its soldiers stationed in South Sudan.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has since condemned the move saying there was need for more consultations.
But in a quick response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the decision to withdraw the Kenya Defence Forces was carefully considered, evolved from an in-depth analysis of the facts, the process and the decision.
It is a decision; the Ministry said that has safeguarded the much, “admired reputation of our Defence Forces, built over many years of dedicated and professional service to humanity both at home and abroad.”
“This is a reputation that the Government is determined to jealously preserve, guard and protect. The Government cannot, therefore, entertain any attempt, from any quarter, to malign the dignity of our forces.”
The dismissal of Lt. General Ondieki, the Amina Mohammed led ministry said it was not an individual matter but one that touches on the fundamentals of Kenya’s participation in the UNMISS as a country.
“It is regrettable that the CORD leadership, in its characteristic fashion has elected to politicize a decision touching on a Kenyan and Kenya that should ordinarily be supported by all patriotic Kenyans. As the Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency the President recognized his obligation, as enshrined in his oath of Office, to protect this Republic and its citizens,” reads the statement.
“The President will not hesitate to take similar decisions in a similar situation in the future, notwithstanding the risk of personalized, ill-informed, cheap publicity-seeking attacks from any quarter, domestic or foreign.
Kenya remains committed, as it has been for decades, to the people of South Sudan. Our country’s role in seeking peace in South Sudan is not one that any individual or institution can doubt or dismiss.”