Ban Ki-moon, then the UN secretary-general, ordered Lt-Gen Ondieki’s removal on the basis of an investigation into Unmiss’ response to deadly attacks last July on its headquarters and on civilian compounds in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed a Rwandan as force commander of the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) — a post previously held by a Kenyan.
Lt-Gen Frank Mushyo Kamanzi comes to his new job with 28 years of national and international military experience, the UN noted.
A former Rwandan army chief of staff, Lt Gen Kamanzi served as force commander of the UN mission in Sudan’s Darfur region.
He succeeds Kenyan Lt-Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki who was sacked as Unmiss commander in November.
Investigators cited “a lack of leadership on the part of key senior mission personnel [that] culminated in a chaotic and ineffective response to the violence.”
“During the attack,” the investigative report stated, “civilians were subjected to and witnessed gross human rights violations, including murder, intimidation, sexual violence and acts amounting to torture perpetrated by armed government soldiers.”
The Kenyan government reacted angrily to Lt-Gen Ondieki’s dismissal. He was being made a scapegoat, Kenya’s UN ambassador charged, noting that Lt-Gen Ondieki had been in his post for only three weeks.
Kenya also withdrew its 1165 soldiers from Unmiss as a protest against the commander’s sacking.
The country’s Foreign Ministry announced at the time that Kenya had rejected a UN offer to nominate a replacement for Lt-Gen Ondieki.
Mr. Ban then named a Chinese major general as acting force commander of Unmiss.
A contingent of 850 soldiers from Bangladesh was deployed in South Sudan in December as a replacement for the Kenyan troops formerly assigned to Unmiss, which consists of about 15,000 uniformed personnel.
State House announced in January, however, that Kenyan troops would rejoin the UN force in South Sudan.
That move toward reconciliation followed talks between President Kenyatta and Secretary-General Guterres on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Ethiopia.
“Let us make a fresh start,” the UN chief said on that occasion. “Kenya is a very important player in the region and I feel that we have to work together to secure peace and security. Let us put the past behind us.”