United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been accused of bowing to pressure from the United States to sack the Kenyan general who was heading the South Sudan peace mission.
Lieutenant-General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki was fired early this month, triggering protests from the Kenyan government. Kenya consequently pulled its more than 1,000 troops out of the troubled nation.
A report by an international NGO says Mr Ban used Lt-Gen Ondieki as a sacrificial lamb for his mistakes and those of the US.
UN had accused Lt-Gen Ondieki of “chaotic and ineffective response” during heavy fighting in the capital Juba on July 8-11.
The report, Children of a Lesser God, produced by the International Policy Group, says the late response was not the Kenyan general’s mistake.
According to the rules of engagement, Gen Ondieki could only send an order to the lead commanders who were in Juba but they did not accept it,” the report dated November 2016 says. “Therefore, the dismissal of Gen Ondieki is not only an error in judgment but also discrimination and a gross violation of his rights.”
ATTEMPT TO SAVE FACE
The report also faults the deployment of the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss), saying it was ineffective “with President Salva Kiir at times arguing that the mission is violating South Sudan’s sovereignty”.
“The Government of South Sudan did not feel invited to the table to deliberate on the mission’s mandate,” says the report, adding that at the heart of the sacking was an attempt by Mr Ban to save face.
It was an expedient political decision by the UN chief to make the Kenyan soldier a sacrificial lamb in order to appease and ward off undue pressures from some permanent members of the UN Security Council, mainly the US and Britain,” the report says.
It adds: “The decision to fire Gen Ondieki smacks of a brazenly shameful misuse of a respected global office to cover up by the American authorities’ failure to warn and protect its citizens in a war situation.”
It details lack of clarity on the mandate and targeted groups, absence of an early warning system and lack of understanding of local politics as part of the problems of the UN mission.
When the UN announced its decision, the agency accused the Kenyan General of lack of leadership in the mission.
“The special investigation found that UNMISS did not respond effectively to the violence due to an overall lack of leadership, preparedness and integration among the various components of the mission,” the UN said then.
The report has detailed lack of clarity on the mandate and targeted groups, absence of an early warning system and lack of understanding of the South Sudan politics as part of the problems of the UN mission in the troubled nation.