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Kenya halts Haiti security mission

The decision comes after the island nation’s prime minister, Ariel Henry, announced that he would resign

Kenya’s plan to deploy police officers to Haiti as part of a multinational security mission has been postponed following a decision by the Caribbean nation’s prime minister to resign, an official from the East African country’s foreign ministry has announced.

The Kenyan foreign ministry’s principal secretary, Abraham Korir Sing’Oei, told the media on Tuesday that Haiti would need a government in place to facilitate the mission.

“The critical ground situation is that there has to be an authority that can be the basis for a police deployment, that enjoys constitutional authority in Haiti,” he said, according to Reuters.

Last October, Kenya agreed to contribute 1,000 police officers and lead a UN-backed mission to combat criminal gangs and militant groups in Haiti. A court in the East African country ruled the move unconstitutional in January, but Kenyan President William Ruto has vowed that the plan will go ahead regardless.

Haiti, a nation of 11.4 million people, has seen an alarming surge in crime and unrest, including kidnappings, robberies, and murders, with armed gangs taking over some of its main ports and driving shortages in key goods. Statistics show that gangs control up to 80% of the capital of the country, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. The UN recently reported that more than 8,400 people were victims of Haitian gang violence last year, more than double the numbers seen in 2022. More than 800 people have been killed in January alone, the UN Human Rights Office says.

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FILE PHOTO: Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 25, 2023.
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Ruto announced at the beginning of March that he had signed an agreement with Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had traveled to Nairobi to expedite the delayed deployment. While Henry was in Kenya last weekend, armed gangs stormed the island’s two largest jails, reportedly freeing more than 4,000 inmates and demanding his resignation. The situation prompted the government to declare a three-day state of emergency and impose a nighttime curfew.

On Tuesday, the prime minister announced that he would resign once a transitional presidential council was formed. He became the leader of the unelected government in Port-au-Prince following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in 2021. He requested an “immediate” deployment of a specialized international armed force in October 2022 to address the country’s deteriorating unrest.

March 13, 2024 at 03:17PM

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