The Kenyan government on Wednesday announced it is pulling out its peacekeepers from South Sudan after the sacking of its national who served as... Johnson Ondieki: Who is the General at the Center of the UN south Sudan Mission’s row with Kenya?

The Kenyan government on Wednesday announced it is pulling out its peacekeepers from South Sudan after the sacking of its national who served as the force commander.

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The sacking of Lt Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki on Tuesday followed the confirmation by a special UN investigation that the mission failed to protect civilians during the violence in Juba in July.

The special investigation found that a lack of leadership by UNMISS, spearheaded by Lt Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, resulted in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during the deadly battle between 8 and 11 July.

In a statement, the Kenya Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the dismissal, saying Lt Gen Ondieki was personally not to blame for what it called “systemic disfunctionality” within UN.

It “revealed a high degree of disrespect for our country,” Kenya’s Foreign Ministry said.

So, who’s Lt Gen Ondiek?

According to the UN, Lt Gen Ondiek has more than 34 years of national and international military command and staff experience.

In May 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Lt Gen Ondiek as Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The appointment was marked as an addition to a list of international missions he has undertaken.

In 2003, he was the commanding officer of the Kenyan Batallion 10 during the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone; operating from a region called Masiaka.

And between 2010 and 2011, he was the Sector Commander of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMISS) that was disbanded when South Sudan seceded from Sudan.

His appointment as the head of UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan in May 2016 placed him in the list of Kenyans who have held high-profile military positions in the UN.

Lt-Gen Ondieki became only the second Kenyan to hold such a high profile military position within the UN system, after Lt-Gen Leonard Muriuki Ngondi who, in 2012, was appointed the Force Commander for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

Kenyan media describes him as the man behind most of the successes registered by Operation Linda Nchi before Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) joined the African Union Mission to Somalia.

Lt-Gen Ondieki was among the military top brass that led an advance team to Somalia before KDF troops moved there for Operation Linda Nchi.

He was involved in the liberation of a number of towns from the Al-Shabaab militia, among them Afmadow, Busaar, Ras Kamboni, Elade, Fafadun, Busaar and Belesc Coqani.

When KDF captured Afmadow in May 2012, Lt-Gen Ondieki was a brigadier at a Dobley-based sector that coordinated the operation.

In recognition of his contribution to the war in Somalia, President Uhuru Kenyatta, in December 2013, appointed him to the position of Deputy Army Commander in a military shake-up following the September 21, 2013 attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall.

The 56-year-old’s fast rise within the ranks in the military system was attributed to a tribal balancing policy in the military. There are reportedly very few generals from the Gusii region in Kenya’s army.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in peace and conflict studies from the African Nazarene University in Kenya, and is also a graduate of the War College in China, and of the Command and Staff College in the United States.

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