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The Kenyan Parliament. (CMC file photo)

Kenya approves deploying troops to Haiti

November 16, 2023

NAIROBI, Kenya, CMC – The Kenyan parliament Thursday approved the deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti as the security situation continues to deteriorate in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

Legislators backed a motion tabled by the Parliament’s Committee on Administration and Internal Security approving the government’s request to send the security officers as violence escalated in Haiti.

But during the heated debate, opposition parliamentarians rejected the government plans for Kenya to lead a multinational policing team in Haiti, saying it violated the country’s constitution.

However, the government insisted that Kenya had a moral obligation and duty to aid Haiti.

The United Nations Security Council has approved a multinational force to assist in Haiti as the Caribbean nation contends with widespread gang violence.

In October, the 15-member United Nations Security Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of sending a  Kenya-led multi-national force to Haiti with Russia and China abstaining, citing fears over Haiti’s troubled history with foreign involvement.

But Haitian Prime Minister Dt. Ariel Henry has repeatedly requested international assistance as gang violence has skyrocketed, leading to ever-growing insecurity and a spate of vigilante reprisals.

Gang violence has displaced approximately 200,000 residents and killed 3,000 people this year alone, with 1,500 more kidnapped for ransom.

The UN Security Council also authorised the renewal for one year, the sanctions regime on Haiti, continuing a targeted arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze established in October last year to address the widespread violence, criminal activity and human rights abuses plaguing the country.

The Council unanimously adopted the resolution and demanded an immediate cessation of kidnappings, sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling, homicides, extrajudicial killings and recruitment of children by armed groups and criminal networks.

During the debate in the Parliament here, the main issues surrounded the funding of the mission and the justifications for sending Kenyan troops to Haiti, thousands of miles from Kenya.

“Where is the sense in taking 1,000 police officers to Haiti when Kenyans are dying, in need of protection, in need of service from their police officers,” said opposition member, Rozzah Buya.

But Gabriel Tongoya, who chairs the Parliament’s Committee on Administration and Internal Security, said all costs of the deployment would be funded by the United Nations.

The planned deployment was blocked by the High Court in Nairobi in October, which is due to rule later on Thursday on a case by former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot who said the mission, “was a mistake and a suicide mission.”

Last week, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki told legislators that Kenya would only deploy the officers to Haiti if funding and equipment were paid for by UN member states.

Burundi, Chad, Senegal, Jamaica, Belize, and the Bahamas have all pledged troops for the multinational mission.

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