UNITED NATIONS —
Kenya says it will pull its peacekeepers from South Sudan, a day after the U.N. secretary-general fired the Kenyan general who is the force commander of the U.N. mission there.
An internal U.N. investigation blamed “a lack of leadership on the part of key senior mission personnel” for the chaotic and ineffective response to fighting that killed some 300 people in July in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.
On Tuesday, when those findings were released, the U.N. said it would “immediately replace” Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki of Kenya, the force commander of the U.N. mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS.
FILE - A U.N. peacekeeper stands outside a camp for internally displaced people in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Tomping, Juba, South Sudan, July 11, 2016.
Ban Ki-moon appointed Ondieki in May and he took up his post in mid-June. The violence that erupted around Juba’s presidential palace began on July 8.
In a statement Wednesday, Kenya’s foreign ministry rejected the general’s dismissal and the U.N.’s offer to nominate a replacement. The ministry said they would immediately withdraw all Kenyan troops serving in the U.N. mission in South Sudan — of which there are about 1,000.
Kenya also said it will discontinue plans to contribute troops to a Regional Protection Force in South Sudan and will disengage from the peace process.
U.N. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. has not yet received official notice from the Kenyan government, but said that their contribution to peacekeeping is “valued."
The deputy force commander, who is Chinese, is currently serving as interim commander. China also came in for criticism in the investigation, for the actions of one of its commanders and a battalion that at least twice abandoned its position protecting civilians in Juba.