[Nairobi, Kenya, TCT] Kenya has made good its threat to withdraw its troops from South Sudan, despite attempts by the government of South Sudan to persuade Kenya to rescind its decision.
The first batch of 100 Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi yesterday afternoon, while another batch was expected later in the evening. The 100 were based in Wau.
Kenya has more than 1,000 soldiers in South Sudan operating under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) banner. A Maj-Gen Benjamin Biwott, who received the troops at the airport, announced that all the troops are expected back home in the next few days.
Kenya’s withdrawal of its troops is a reaction to the decision by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to sack the Kenyan commander of UNMISS, after a report by a Special Investigation criticized him for failing to provide leadership during violence that occurred in in Juba in July, after a disagreement between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar.
In early November, President Uhuru Kenyatta also announced that Kenya will not participate in the envisaged Regional Protection Force (RPF) that is supposed to be established courtesy of a UN Security Council resolution.
Kenya’s Lt-Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki was sacked after a report stated that he failed to protect civilians who had taken refuge in Terrain Camp, which is close to UN House, against attacks from government soldiers on July 11.
This development comes even as the government of South Sudan has asked the UN to reconsider its decision to sack the Kenyan commander. Through the Minister for Information, Communication and Technology, Michael Makuel Lueth, the government of President Kiir regretted the decision, terming it as unwarranted and unfortunate, as the commander had taken charge just three weeks before the chaos erupted.
While making the announcement to withdraw Kenyan soldiers from South Sudan, the Kenyan president also said that Kenya will disengage from the South Sudan Peace process, a process it has been involved in for more than a decade.
Kenya and South Sudan have accused the UN of acting without consulting Nairobi and Juba in sacking the commander, who took the job only in May. Kenya has 995 of its soldiers deployed in Wau, 166 in Aweil and 304 in Kuajok, all of whom will be withdrawn from their current positions in South Sudan.
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