Opposition mounts as Kenyan police mission to Haiti faces legal and local opposition

The deployment of Kenyan police officers to the troubled Haiti continues to face stiff opposition in both countries.

From the Transitional Presidential Council’s lack of clear communication; gang leaders warning Kenya against sending officers, activists and Kenyan lawyers moving to court to stop the deployment, the situation remains uncertain.

The first batch of officers was supposed to arrive in the Caribbean nation this week as part of the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission after Parliament and the Cabinet approved the deployment of 1,000 police.

In January, High Court Judge Enock Chacha Mwita ruled that “any decision by any State organ or State officer to deploy police officers to Haiti… contravenes the Constitution and the law and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal and invalid”.

Lawyer and Thirdway Alliance party leader Ekuru Aukot on Friday filed an application in court asking that the government to be held in contempt over plans to send 200 police to Haiti.

A Haiti-based group known as Movement Unforgettable Dessalines Jean Jacques (MUDJJ) reached to Mr Aukot at the weekend and thanked him for his efforts to stop Kenyan police from being sent to their country.

The movement said that the move by the lawyer who has been on the forefront in opposing the deployment of the officers to Haiti and even filed a case in court to stop the process, was well-guided.

“We deeply appreciate your principled stance against the deployment of Kenyan police forces to Haiti, a move that many, including ourselves, view as unconstitutional and misaligned with the interest of the Haitian people,” reads a letter the group wrote to Mr Aukot, and which is in our possession.

It further said the move by Mr Aukot resonates well with Haitians.

External interference

The group said that the problems that the people of Haiti are facing can only be addressed internally, and the country does not need external interference.

MUDJJ said the challenges in Haiti are caused by external forces, and this has been justified as a move to promote democracy.

Read: Haitian business leaders ‘extremely concerned’ over delay to Kenya-led mission

“These interventions, have, unfortunately, frequently served to undermine our nation’s autonomy and impede our progress. The current aspiration of the Haitian people is to see leadership that genuinely reflects their will,” the group said.

The movement further claimed that the actions of President William Ruto appear to align more with external influences than with the principle of African solidarity and self-determination.

MUDJJ said that its main agenda is to ensure that peace is restored in Haiti and the people get the leaders of their choice.

Already, US army officers are in Haiti building barracks for the Kenyan police officers.

The immediate former Haiti acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who supported the deployment of Kenyan police, was forced to resign.

Mr Henry had just visited President Ruto in March to finalise the deal when violence rocked Haiti and gang leaders warned him not to return home.

In the first three months of 2024, over 2,500 people have lost their lives due to gang violence in Haiti. A top security officer, who is privy to the deployment plans, told the Nation that the first batch of Kenyan officers is expected in Haiti this week.

200 officers 

“Everything is set and the first set of around 200 officers will leave the country soon,” he said without divulging more details.

The deployment will take place at a time when President Ruto is expected to start his State visit to the United States of America on May 23.

The officers who will be deployed are drawn from the Recce Squad, Rapid Deployment Force and Special Operation Group.

Some of these officers will be tasked with securing some areas especially airports and other critical installations while others will be fighting with the gangs which have even overpowered police officers in Haiti.

Most of these officers have been involved in fighting Al Shabaab militants especially in the vast North Eastern Region.

This means that the officers are well conversant with dealing with violent crime like what is being witnessed in Haiti. They have also been trained in the US ahead of the deployment.

Another headache which the officers are most likely to face is the gangs who have openly said that they will fight tooth and nail and wipe out any officers who will be deployed there.

For instance, Mr Jimmy Cherizier alias Barbecue has already said that if the Kenyan officers arrive there then it will not be business as usual but massacre.

In an interview with United States-based National Public Radio (NPR) on May 13, the notorious gangster warned the Kenyan police to expect fierce resistance once the multinational mission begins.

“If the Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines worried about his life, Haiti wouldn’t be free today,” he said.

This has also been echoed by Civil Rights Groups within Haiti that have also said that the gangs in the country would be too tough for the Kenyan officers.

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