Kenya will not be sending troops to the troubled South Sudan despite a request from the United Nations.
Foreign Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed Wednesday told reporters that Kenya had been approached to help boost the more than 5,500 soldiers needed to guard peace in the neighbouring country.
But the government, taking a neutral view on the conflict, said it would not send its soldiers after all. It would instead opt to contribute to the solution through diplomatic means.
“The UN Security council has approached several countries Kenya and Rwanda among them to contribute 5500 peacekeeping force,” she told reporters during the signing of her ministry’s performance contracts.
“Some countries have already agreed to provide troops to South Sudan, others are still considering the provision of those troops. Kenya supports the implementation of the Security Council but is unlikely to send its troops.”
The admission from the minister arose from a question on whether the decision by Uganda to deploy its troops to Juba was affecting the nascent peace talks in the world’s youngest nation.
But Ms Mohamed told reporters Uganda’s move had been sanctioned by both the government of South Sudan and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), the body that has been midwifing the talks; to “protect installations in South Sudan.”
“It was agreed that it would provide an opportunity to take humanitarian assistance to South Sudan. It as very difficult for the first few days to find a flight to take humanitarian assistance, she argued. But Uganda has since been accused by the rebel side of siding with the South Sudanese government and fighting alongside the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
“Igad did not allow anybody to fight alongside south Sudanese army. Igad agreed to the protection of installations and to allow humanitarian assistance. So, you cannot say that Igad allowed foreign troops in South Sudan. All the participating countries are members of Igad.”
The UN Security Council passed a resolution in December last year to boost the presence of peace keepers several days after the country descended into chaos.
Normally, the National Security Council, upon the approval of the National Assembly, deploys Kenyan troops outside its borders for peace, support operations or any other missions allowed by the law.
But the government quickly added that while it supports the resolution, Kenya’s participation will not be by sending its military.
“Kenya will not send troops to South Sudan but supports the UN Security Council Resolution,” Foreign Affairs later said.
On Thursday, Igad cancelled an urgent meeting it had planned for Juba but said it was hopeful that South Sudan’s warring parties will end their conflict and cease hostilities.
Igad Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim claimed negotiations were going well in Addis Ababa as shuttle diplomacy by mediators continued to have fighting stop.
“We hope there is going to be a cessation of hostilities and find a way to deal with people who have been displaced since the fight began,” he said on the sidelines of a conference information access for improving disaster risks reduction in the Horn of Africa, in Nairobi.
The meeting which had been scheduled for Thursday was to discuss the foreign intervention in South Sudan, beside the efforts of how to convene the warring parties to cease hostilities.