Kenya agrees to rejoin South Sudan UN force

A group of Kenyan Defence Force {KDF} soldiers attached to the UN mission in South Sudan {UNMISS} arrive at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi on November 9, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN MUCHUCHA)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - Kenya has agreed to take part in a UN regional force for South Sudan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday, three months after Nairobi angrily withdrew its troops from the country.

Kenya pulled its peacekeepers from South Sudan and announced it would not contribute to the planned regional force after Guterres' predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, fired the Kenyan commander of the peacekeeping force.

The commander was sacked following a report that showed UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians during heavy fighting in Juba in July.

Guterres told reporters that he had "reached full agreement with Kenya in order for Kenya to participate in the regional protection force" to be deployed in Juba.

The UN Security Council decided in August to deploy the 4,000-strong regional force to bolster its peacekeeping mission, but the plan has been bogged down in delays and bureaucratic hurdles.

Guterres returned from a series of meetings with regional leaders on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, saying that peace efforts on South Sudan were back on track.

The UN chief, who also met with President Salva Kiir, said the African Union's mediator for South Sudan, Mali's former president Alpha Oumar Konare, would led the new diplomatic push, backed by the United Nations.

The IGAD regional bloc and the African Union have made little headway in efforts to end the three-year war in South Sudan, one of Africa's worst conflicts, that has killed tens of thousands of people.

Guterres will deliver a report to the Security Council on Friday on his diplomatic efforts on South Sudan.