A United Nations spokesman on Thursday rejected the claim by Kenya’s UN ambassador that a special inquiry resulting in the sacking of a Kenyan UN commander had a “pre-ordained outcome.”
“There was, of course, no pre-ordained conclusion” to the investigation of the performance of UN military leaders in South Sudan, said spokesman Stephen Dujarric.
Referring to Dutch retired Major Gen Patrick Cammaert who headed the investigation, Mr Dujarric told reporters at UN headquarters, “We trust him, and we value his work, and we value his judgment.”
“Mr Cammaert went in with an open mind,” the UN spokesman added in his press briefing at the world body’s headquarters in New York.
Mr Dujarric also took issue with Ambassador Macharia Kamau’s statement less than an hour earlier that the Kenyan commander of the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) had not undergone “normal induction” prior to taking up his post in June.
Induction courses, which take place twice a year, “are focused on how to deal with the UN system,” Mr Dujarric said. “It is not a course for senior military leaders in terms of decision-making. So I don’t believe that had any impact on the force commander’s ability to do his work.”
Asked if there is a chance of reversing the UN secretary-general’s decision to sack Lt Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, Mr Dujarric said, “Not that I’m aware of.”
QUELL THE ROW
But the UN spokesman also sought to quell the row that culminated in Kenya’s decision on Wednesday to withdraw all its soldiers and police from Unmiss.
“I can’t stress how much we value Kenya’s support for peacekeeping over the last decades, the work that Kenyan troops have done and we hope will continue to do,” Mr Dujarric said.
“The decision taken by the secretary-general was not a decision about Kenya,” he added. “It was a decision about a force commander.”
A public summary of the report on Maj Gen Cammaert’s investigation said that Unmiss leaders had failed to adequately defend the mission’s headquarters in Juba against anticipated violence in July involving government troops and rebel forces.
The inquiry also found that Unmiss ignored pleas to repulse an attack by South Sudanese soldiers on a civilian compound near the mission’s offices. A journalist was killed in the course of that rampage and several female residents of the civilian compound were sexually assaulted.