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The UN-Kenya row: Who is Gen Ondiek?

Author : | Published: November 3, 2016

The Kenyan government on Wednesday announced it was pulling out its peacekeepers from South Sudan after the sacking of its national who served as the force commander.

The sacking of Lt Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki on Tuesday followed the confirmation by a special UN investigation that the mission failed to protect civilians during the violence in Juba in July.

The special investigation found that a lack of leadership by UN peacekeeping force, spearheaded by Lt Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, resulted in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during the deadly battle between 8 and 11 July.

Lt Gen Mogoa’s performance as force commander

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

The essence of the report in summary is that: “The Special Investigation found that…lack of preparedness, ineffective command and control and a risk-averse or ‘inward looking’ posture resulted in a loss of trust and confidence—particularly by the local population and humanitarian agencies—in the will and skill of UNMISS military, police [sic] to be proactive and show a determined posture to protect civilians under threat, including from sexual violence and human rights violations.”

The report indicates that 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.”

And this is where the performance of Lt Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani comes in, because the criticism is directly leveled at the performance of the Force Commander, the Chinese battalion, and a Nepalese Formed Police Unit.

Repercussions

In this photo taken Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) force commander Lt. Gen. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki of Kenya, right, stands next to Ellen Loj, center, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, and an unidentified member of South Sudan's government, left, as they await a delegation of U.N. Security Council members, in Juba, South Sudan. Kenya's foreign affairs ministry said Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 that it is pulling out its 1,000 troops deployed to South Sudan as part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission after the U.N. secretary-general fired the force's Kenyan commander. (AP Photo/Justin Lynch)

Lt Gen Mogoa, Abdon Agau, South Sudan Gov’t SG, and Ellen, UNMISS outgoing boss (AP Photo/Justin Lynch)

In a surprising move, the head of UNMISS, Ellen Margrethe Løj announced her departure from the mission by the end of November. No proper reasons were provided for her sudden resignation.

This week, UN SG, Ban ki-Moon announced the dismissal of Mogoa and asked Kenya to appoint a new force commander.

Kenya ‘angered’

uhuruandamina

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Dr. Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs

However, in a statement, the Kenya Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the dismissal, saying Lt Gen Ondieki was personally not to blame for what it called “systemic disfunctionality” within UN.

Kenya said the move by Mr. ki-Moon demonstrated a ‘complete disregard’ of her key role and responsibility in South Sudan.

“The manner in which the information was conveyed to the government of Kenya revealed a high degree of disrespect for our country, and lack of confidence in our troops and their contribution to regional peace processes.” Kenya’s Foreign Ministry said.

The statement further announced the rejection of Lt Gen Ondieki’s dismissal and the offer for his replacement. It also said Kenya was pulling out its troops, won’t contribute troops to the Regional Protection Force, and that it will be disengaging its support for the peace process in South Sudan.

So, who’s Lt Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki ?

ondieki

[Lt Gen Ondiek [right] seen here congratulating a KDF officer]

According to the UN, Lt Gen Ondiek, 56-year-old, has more than 34 years of national and international military command and staff experience.

Kenyan media describes him as the man behind most of the successes registered by Operation Linda Nchi before Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) joined the African Union Mission to Somalia.

When KDF captured Afmadow in May 2012, Lt-Gen Ondieki was a brigadier at a Dobley-based sector that coordinated the operation.

And between 2010 and 2011, he was the Sector Commander of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) that was disbanded when South Sudan seceded from Sudan.

In 2003, he was the commanding officer of the Kenyan Batallion 10 during the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone; operating from a region called Masiaka.

In May 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Lt Gen Ondiek as Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Upon his dismissal, he had only served 5 months as head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations [DPKO] in South Sudan.

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