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Kenya, Haiti sign ‘reciprocal’ police deployment agreement: Ruto

  • Kenya-Haiti police deployment agreed
  • Court challenge remains uncertain
  • Haiti faces severe gang violence

President William Ruto of Kenya has announced that a “reciprocal” agreement has been reached between Kenya and Haiti regarding the deployment of Kenyan police to oversee a United Nations-backed law and order mission in the gang-ridden Caribbean nation.

Ruto and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry “discussed the next steps to enable the expeditious deployment,” he said on Friday. However, it was not immediately clear whether the agreement would overturn a January court ruling that declared the deployment “unconstitutional.”

As lethal gang-related violence ravaged the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, the agreement was reached, resulting in the closure of schools and businesses and the cancellation of flights.

Prior to this, Kenya had expressed its willingness to contribute a maximum of one thousand personnel; the United States and other countries that had refrained from deploying their own forces to the area embraced this offer.

However, the decision was deemed unconstitutional by a court in Nairobi, in part due to the absence of a reciprocal agreement between the two nations concerning the matter.

Ruto and Henry “witnessed the signing” of a reciprocal agreement in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, on Friday, he said.

“I would like to extend Kenya’s reaffirmation of its dedication to aiding in the achievement of this international undertaking. Peace in Haiti benefits the entire globe, so we consider this a historic responsibility,” Ruto said in a statement.

Early in October, the United Nations Security Council granted approval to the mission; however, Kenya lodged concerns regarding Nairobi’s participation, which led to a legal challenge.

The decision cast doubt on the sustainability of a multinational force that the Haitian government has long advocated for in an effort to combat the violence that has claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 people.

The petitioner against the deployment, opposition politician Ekuru Aukot, confirmed to AFP on Friday that he intended to file a lawsuit alleging “contempt of court.”

He stated, “We shall challenge the legitimacy of this clandestine agreement.”

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, has been in disarray for years, as armed groups have seized control of large portions of the country and unleashed brutal violence, destroying the economy and public health system.

Multiple factions, according to a prominent gang leader, were conspiring to assault state security forces in an effort to depose Prime Minister Henry.

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Gang commander Jimmy Cherisier, also known as “Barbecue,” announced the assault via social media video just prior to the start of the battles.

“By uniting the Haitian people with our weapons, we shall liberate the nation,” he declared.

At the moment, Haiti lacks elected officials; Henry assumed the position of prime minister shortly after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July 2021, receiving the support of the international community. The prime minister was obligated to transfer power to elected officials by February 7 of this year, per a political agreement; however, this event has not yet transpired.

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