Ethiopia: Kenya agrees to redeploy troops to UN mission in South Sudan

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Kenya has agreed in principle to redeploy troops to the UN Mission in South Sudan following its decision in November last year to withdraw nearly 1,000 troops serving in its mission there, a senior official said Sunday.

Manoah Esipisu, the Spokesperson for the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, said the decision to redeploy the Kenyan troops in South Sudan, was made during discussions with the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"They met to reconcile the treatment of the Kenyan troops in South Sudan," Esipisu told reporters in Addis Ababa, on the sidelines of an African Union Summit, which has started in the Ethiopian capital with a series of side-meetings and events.

The main Summit, set to officially open in Addis Ababa on Monday, is expected to elect the organisation's incoming Chairperson of the Commission, which houses the Secretariat, which is tasked with implementing the AU decisions and declarations.

Kenyan troops withdrew from South Sudan in November in protest at a UN decision to fire a Kenyan Commander, for failing to protect vulnerable civilians from attacks by South Sudanese troops during an armed confrontation with the troops loyal to former Vice President of South Sudan Riek Machar.

"The UN Secretary felt Kenya is a key player in this region. The two leaders have expressed their hope in reaching an amicable solution," Esipisu told reporters.

To protest the decision to fire the Kenyan commander, Nairobi ordered the immediate withdrawal of all its troops in South Sudan.

However, sources told PANA some 131 Kenyan troops remain in South Sudan to prepare for the shipment of heavy weaponry.

Kenyan government also decided to withdraw from any plans to deploy further troops to South Sudan, including the 5,000 troops approved by the UN Security Council to act as a protection force.

The UN Secretary-General has also proposed to create an African-led leadership panel, made of Presidents, to ensure accountability within the UN peacekeeping operations, officials said.

According to Esipisu, the UN Secretary-General, has proposed to include the Kenyan President in the team.

The diplomatic protest following the firing of the Kenyan UN Commander of the South Sudanese peacekeeping operation saw Kenyan announce its decision not to participate in future negotiations concerning South Sudan.

The UN Secretary-General proposed to appoint a Kenyan Commander to head the UN peacekeeping operation in Sudan's Western region of Darfur.

The two leaders did not announce the timeframe for the redeployment of the troops.
-0- PANA AO/MA 29Jan2017

29 january 2017 10:34:24

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