The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan is now under new leadership, with the arrival this week of Lieutenant General Frank Mushyo Kamanzi of Rwanda.
Kamanzi will lead a force of 17,000 military personnel from 55 different countries, UNMISS said in a statement. The new commander has nearly 30 years’ experience, including his most recent position as Force Commander of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). A native of Uganda, he has a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National Defense University in the United States and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Makerere University in Kampala, with additional education received in Nigeria and China.
Kamanzi replaces Lt. General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki of Kenya, who was dismissed last fall after former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon made changes in the wake of a negative report following the violent outbreak in Juba in July 2016.
The UN concluded that heavy fighting between government and opposition forces, in which UNMISS was caught in the crossfire, resulted in 73 deaths – at least 20 of them civilians under protection.
Witnesses described sexual assaults in which government forces were implicated, and the robbery of both civilians and UN personnel and aid workers. The military trial of 13 South Sudanese soldiers charged in some of those attacks began Tuesday, but has been adjourned until June 6.
Ondieki was removed from UNMISS leadership after the 2016 report was released, infuriating President Uhuru Kenyatta and touching off a diplomatic firestorm with Kenya. Kenya decided to pull its troops from the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and threatened to leave the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace process, despite its pivotal role in brokering a 2015 peace agreement between Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar. In January, new UN Secretary General António Guterres persuaded Kenyatta to return to UNMISS.
Image: Government of Rwanda