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Kenya blasts UN report on peacekeeping force in South Sudan

The East African nation is furious that a UN report is blaming a Kenyan general for an attack on a UN compound. Kenya accuses the UN of scapegoating their general, who arrived just three weeks before the attack.

A row over who is to blame for a prolonged attack in July on a UN compound in the South Sudanese capital Juba has cast the UN mission in that country into doubt.

Kenya and Russia sharply criticized a UN report on the attack which placed the blame primarily at the feet of the Kenyan commander Lt. Gen. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki who has been sacked by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Kenyan UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau slammed the secretary general during a press conference Thursday, accusing Ban of making Ondieki "a scapegoat" for the systemic failures of the global body's peacekeeping system.

"Kenya had warned that any unfair or prejudicial action taken on the basis of this investigation would compel Kenya to re-evaluate completely its engagement in South Sudan," Kamau said. "The secretary-general, in his lame-duck season, seems to have found the courage that has eluded him throughout his tenure by choosing to ignore Kenya's plea."

Ban's 10 years as UN chief come to an end on December 31 and Antonio Guterres will take over as secretary-general on January 1.

The probe sharply criticized the UN peacekeeping force's response to attacks on a UN compound housing 27,000 displaced people. During three days of violence last July at least 73 people were killed, including two Chinese peacekeepers and more than 20 internally displaced people who had sought UN protection.

Peacekeepers failed response

Watch video 01:35

US pushes for South Sudan protection force (22.08.2016)

The investigators also criticized the peacekeepers for failing to respond to an attack on a private compound just over a kilometer away where UN staff, aid workers and local staff were robbed, beaten, raped and killed by armed government soldiers.

Kenya's Foreign Ministry, expressing "dismay" at Ondieki's firing said it would withdraw its 1,000 troops from the UN peacekeeping operation in South Sudan and will not contribute to a planned force increase of 4,000 troops.

There are 13,000 UN forces on the ground in the world's youngest country, which is being riven by sectarian conflict

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric rejected Kamau's accusations, saying the investigation was conducted with "no preordained conclusion." It was led by retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert.

Watch video 04:28

New clashes threaten peace in South Sudan (12.08.2016)

Dujarric said the investigation focused on "leadership, command decisions taken on that day," and that the secretary-general fired Ondieki on the basis of those findings, which "deeply distressed" him.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said "there is, of course, the system-wide accountability. We all have a degree of responsibility."

As for the firing of Ondieki, "I don't want to add salt to the wound," Ladsous said. "I think that conclusions were irrefutable."

Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Petr Illichev lamented Ondieki's dismissal.

"For us the decision was premature," he said. "We don't have a special representative, she's leaving, we don't have a force commander. ... The whole structure is in ruins."

bik/sms (AP, Reuters)

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