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Kenya and UN to renew relations over S Sudan

Author : Daniel Danis | Published: Monday, January 30, 2017

Kenya has agreed to revisit its fractured relations with the United Nations after pulling out its forces under United Nation Mission in South Sudan last year.

The relations between Kenya and the global body were exacerbated by a report of the UN which pitied blame on the ineffectiveness of its Mission in South Sudan and the lack of leadership by the commanding officer of the peacekeeping forces, on a Kenyan General.

In November, former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, relieved force commander Lt Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, after the special investigation confirmed that the mission failed to protect civilians during the violence in Juba in July.

The Executive Summary provided a devastating critique of the mission’s performance before, during and after the 8-11 July crisis in South Sudan.

The report said the mission did not respond to calls for assistance from people in the Terrain Compound, where multiple rapes occurred; and recommended that “peacekeepers, commanders and relevant troop contributing countries…be held accountable for failures to protect.”

The criticism was directly leveled at the performance of the Force Commander, the Chinese battalion, and a Nepalese Formed Police Unit.

Ban ki-Moon had asked Kenya to appoint a new force commander.

But in a letter of protest by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Kenyan government refused to appoint a new replacement for Ondieki, and instead announced that it was pulling out its troops.

Kenya described the UN’s actions as a move that “revealed a high degree of disrespect for [the] country”.

It said Lt Gen Ondieki was personally not to blame for what it called “systemic dysfunctionality” within UN.

Kenya also announced additional measures in disengaging its peacekeeping efforts within the UN by refusing to pledge troops to the Regional Protection Force, and withdrawing its support for the peace process in South Sudan.

A week later, 100 Kenyan troops serving under UNMISS in Wau left South Sudan.

However, Kenya’s Presidential Press Unit posted on social media this week a meeting between, Uhuru Kenyatta and the new United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres at the sideline of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“We agreed to reset the fractured relations between Kenya and the UN caused by a dispute over military deployment in South Sudan,” said Mr. Kenyatta.

Last year, while addressing a weekly press briefing, Kenya’s State House Spokesman, Manoah Esipisu, clarified his country’s position with regards to South Sudan.

Mr Manoah said the letter of protest written by the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in relations to how Kenya deals with the UN on peacekeeping efforts, and that it had nothing to do with regional cooperations.

He said Nairobi will continue with its peace efforts in South Sudan on other fronts.

“Our obligation to the people of South Sudan remains in place, we will work with them bilaterally, we will work with them through the Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD], we will work with them through the East African Community [EAC], which we worked hard to get them there, and we will work with them through the structures of the African Union,” Mr Manoah said.

It remains to be seen whether Kenya will also revisit its decision of abstaining from contributing forces to the Regional Protection Force in South Sudan as recommended by the UN Security Council.

The RPF, once deployed, will operate under UNMISS with a mission to provide protection to civilians and aid agencies in South Sudan, among others.

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