Kindiki defends plan to deploy Kenyan police officers to Haiti

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki (centre) when appeared before the Senate Plenary session at parliament in Nairobi on October 11, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki has defended the plan to deploy 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti even as he asked MPs to approve it.

The CS who spoke at two fundraisers, at Kunene Mixed Secondary School and at Kithirune MCK in Meru County, said the Kenyan government would not be spending any money on the Haiti deployment.

The government has been criticised that it is planning to deploy police officers to Haiti yet back home, there is still a lot of insecurity. To this, Prof Kindiki said Kenya has enough officers to maintain law and order at home and deployment elsewhere.

There have also been concerns about the safety of the Kenyan police officers in Haiti.

"I am asking MPs to discuss the possible deployment of our police officers to Haiti soberly. This would not be the first time the country would be sending her security officers to maintain order in a foreign country," Kindiki said on Sunday.

He added: "Kenya has enough police officers. What we need is improvement in the way we deploy them. We also need to sharpen the skills of specialized units."  

The Cabinet, on Friday, October 13, 2023, approved the deployment of police officers to lead a multinational peacekeeping mission to Haiti to combat gang violence.

However, the deployment will not happen until parliament signs off on the resolution.

Between January and August this year, over 2,000 people were reportedly killed in Haiti by criminal gangs. Another 950 were said to have been kidnapped over the same period of time, with 900 injured in gang attacks.

The Kenya-led peacekeeping force was approved by a United Nations Security Council resolution on October 2. The mission is being funded by voluntary contributions. The United States has pledged up to Sh30 billion ($200 million) to the efforts.

Insecurity has persisted across Haiti for many years. This has led to significant operational challenges for businesses in the country. Levels of criminal activity have been on a steady increase, especially in areas outside the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The planned deployment of the Kenyan police officers has raised a lot of controversy with opposition leader Raila Odinga criticizing Kenya's involvement in the Haiti crisis when the country has its own security problems.

But in Meru, Kindiki who was flanked by several local MPs and MCAs, said: "Kenyan troops have been deployed to countries such as Namibia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Croatia, and Cambodia, among other areas, and they did good service. There has been no problem." 

"The Kenya government is not spending funds on the deployment. We appeal to the MPs to discuss the matter soberly," he said.

Police officers during a pass-out parade at Kenya Police College in Kiganjo, Nyeri County, on January 20, 2022. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

He added: "Kindiki said Kenyan officers working with colleagues from other countries to keep peace in Congo and Somalia had done a commendable job."

"The motion will soon be tabled in parliament for debate, and I ask our MPs to handle the matter soberly," he said, adding; "The National Security Council has already approved the request for deployment of our officers in Haiti," Kindiki said. 

He said his ministry will adhere to the constitution and follow the procedure of deploying security officers in Haiti.

"The Security Council has already approved the request. We are asking the two houses of parliament to debate the matter patriotically and in the best interest of the country, and give us their blessings and those of the people they represent so we can send our officers to Haiti," the CS said. 

He was flanked by MPs Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri), Kirima Nguchine (Central), John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), and John Mutunga (Tigania West).

On October 3, President William Ruto said that the Kenya-led force would “not fail the people of Haiti”, even as his deputy Rigathi Gachagua called on other nations to assist and ensure sufficient resources are available to make the Haiti mission a success.

Gachagua, who spoke on October 15, asked parliament to support the efforts to send the officers to Haiti, even as he promised that the government would follow the law in the deployment.

Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Musalia Mudavadi and National Security Advisor Monica Juma are expected to travel to the Caribbean country for a second assessment mission.