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Kenya inks mission deal, violence erupts in Haiti

 President William Ruto and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry at State House, Nairobi. [PCS]

Kenya and Haiti have signed an agreement that paves the way for the deployment of Kenyan police officers to the gang-stricken Caribbean country, a mission under the United Nations.

The signing of the deal, which will see the deployment of 1,000 police officers, was witnessed by President William Ruto and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Friday at State House, Nairobi.

The much-publicised agreement goes against an earlier court ruling in January that considered the deployment unconstitutional.

The deal was signed even as a wave of panic hit the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, leading to the closure of schools and cancellation of flights.

Known as “Barbecue”, Haiti’s gang leader Jimmy Cherisier publicised the attack in a social media video just before the battles began. The move came during the absence of the Prime Minister, who is in Nairobi to finalize details for the deployment of a foreign armed force to Haiti to help combat gangs, as reported by Al Jazeera.

President Ruto has been categorical that the mission would still go on.

“From Kenya, we are ready for this deployment, and I request all the other partners across the globe to step up so that we can provide a response in good time,” said President Ruto.

The UN Security Council approved the mission in October last year, but it was punctuated when the plan was challenged in court.

Politician Ekuru Aukot, who had challenged the deployment in court, has pledged to fight back.

“The reciprocal arrangement is fake and illegal,” he said.

Prime Minister Henry, on his part, praised the move taken by Kenya, saying the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti would stabilise the country.

“What this mission is bringing is hope for the future of humankind, for a people who cannot see how they will live tomorrow,” the Prime Minister said.

The gang wars in Haiti have so far claimed over 5,000 deaths, with the scale of the violence hitting headlines in 2021 when assassins killed former President Jovenel Moise at his residence in the capital Port-au-Prince. During the signing of the agreement, Prime Minister Henry said that his government would accord the Kenyan contingent the necessary support during the mission.

After the signing of the deal, the Haitian leader later gave a lecture at the United States International University in Nairobi, accompanied by Foreign Affairs PS Korir Sing’oei.

Haiti has been in turmoil for several years, with armed gangs taking control of parts of the country, unleashing violence on the populace.

The widespread violence has rendered much of the country lawless and ungovernable, crippling the country’s economy and the public health system.

The  Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti was authorized by the United Nations Security Council on October 2, 2023, under Resolution 2699.

In response to the Security Council resolution, Kenya’s National Security Council and Cabinet approved the deployment of police officers on October 13, 2023, a decision that Parliament unanimously endorsed on November 16, 2023.

However, following a petition filed in the High Court last January, the court determined that a reciprocal agreement with Haiti was needed.

Countries that have pledged forces for the Haiti mission include Benin, Chad, Bangladesh, Barbados, and The Bahamas.

Currently, Haiti has no elected officials, with Henry sworn in as prime minister with the backing of the international community following the assassination of President Moise.

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