ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan 29 – Kenyan troops will rejoin the peacekeeping forces in South Sudan following talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and UN Secretary General António Guterres on Sunday in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the African Union Summit.
The two who sat down to breakfast also agreed that Kenya would take up command of the peace keeping forces in Darfur, according to State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu.
“As a measure of the confidence and drawing a line about this episode the UN has offered Kenya the command for the forces in Darfur which our President welcomed and officials here would start immediate discussions with UN about assuming the command in Darfur.”
The episode in question being Kenya’s decision to not only withdraw its troops from South Sudan but disengage from the peace process in response to what President Kenyatta’s administration saw as an affront to the nation after Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki was relieved of his command of the UN Mission in South Sudan last year.
Unfairly so, as President Kenyatta’s administration saw it.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon took the decision to relieve Ondieki of his post as the UNMISS Commander on November 1, 2016 – five months after elevating him to the position – on receiving a special report on atrocities committed in the five-year-old nation in July last year.
“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.
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.
In its protest communication to the UN, Kenya also took issue with the manner the decision was communicated to them and at the time declined an offer to name a replacement.
The decision was met with heavy criticism from the opposition who saw the move as impetuous with the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Kenya urging a rethink.
At the time, Kenya which had been proactively involved in peace negotiation until that point, had approximately 1,500 of its soldiers stationed in South Sudan.