Kenya has finally commenced on withdrawing its 1000-strong force from the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in war-torn South Sudan.
The first batch of 100 Kenya Defense Forces soldiers arrived back to the country on Wednesday following after the government announced a withdrawal from the war-torn country.
“Today we have started our withdrawal from South Sudan following President Kenyatta’s directive last week,” Officer Commanding the Eastern Command Major General Benjamin Biwott told journalists at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) when he received the soldiers
The move comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya’s decision to withdraw from the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan was a protest against the violation of the dignity of Kenya’s soldiers.
Kenyatta said the United Nations acted in an undignified manner when it replaced the commander Lt-Gen Johnson Ondieki who was heading the mission in South Sudan.
He said the United Nations did not also respect Kenya’s sovereignty when it took the unilateral decision to which Kenya has responded by withdrawing its soldiers from the mission.
“Our soldiers have served in many countries and with distinction,” Kenyatta told African diplomats in Nairobi on Nov. 4 and cited how Kenyan soldiers performed in Namibia, East Timor, Yugoslavia and many other missions.
President Kenyatta pointed out that Kenya has always participated in UN peacekeeping missions in many volatile countries across the world and has always received commendations.
The President said the UN was using the Kenyan officer as a fall guy for the structural and systematic shortcomings of the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
“We took the decision to withdraw from the mission to protect the dignity and pride of our men and women in uniform. We feel strongly that the decision by the UN was unfair,” Kenyatta said.
Kenyatta however made it clear that Kenya will forever stand by South Sudan as it has done over the years. “Our history with South Sudan speaks for itself. No one can doubt Kenya’s commitment to the independence and stability of South Sudan,” he said.
He said Kenya will continue engaging with and supporting South Sudan at the bilateral level and through the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the East African Community.