South Sudan: Kenya Begins Withdrawing Peacekeepers

The first batch of 100 soldiers returned home on Wednesday.


Angered by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s sacking of the Kenyan commander of the UN  peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, the Kenyan government has decided to withdraw its peacekeepers, Voice of America reported.

New 24  said that the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last week while ordering for the withdrawal of the peacekeepers accused the UN of « scapegoating Kenyans » for the wider failings of the UN Mission in South Sudan and said he would no longer play a role in the failed efforts to mediate peace in the country. « We have started our withdrawal from South Sudan following the directive given by his excellency the president and commander in chief of the Kenya Defense Forces last week,” Major General Benjamin Biwott of the Kenya Defense Forces is quoted as telling reporters on November 9.

Reports say the first batch of the 1,000 soldiers were flown to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi on Wednesday, November 9, 2016. Specifically, about 100 soldiers returned to Kenya. General Biwott said Kenyan forces have taken part in more than 40 peacekeeping missions and that the country is still committed to peacekeeping operations as long as they are deeply rooted in professionalism.

Reports of the U.N. inquiry published at the beginning of this month accused the fired Kenyan commander of failing to protect civilians during heavy fighting in the South Sudan capital of Juba in July 2016.  UN investigators said a lack of leadership led to a “chaotic and ineffective response. Over 300 people were killed in last July fighting in the capital Juba between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his rival, former First Vice President Riek Machar.

The New York Times quoted the UN Secretary-General who “asked for the immediate replacement of the force commander.”

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