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Jun 24, 2024, 3:09pm EDT
africa

Kenya finally deploys police to Haiti amid protests at home

Kenya State House
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NAIROBI — Kenya’s President William Ruto on Monday, saw off 400 police officers set to deploy to Haiti as part of a UN-backed security mission. They will leave for Haiti on Tuesday, June 25. Kenya is expected to send a total of 1,000 officers to the island nation in a phased approach.

Ruto handed the officers the Kenyan flag in a low-key event at State House, the presidential residence in Nairobi. The media was not invited to the event, in which Kenyan clergy members also prayed for the forces. Godfrey Otunge, senior assistant inspector general of Kenya’s police force, was named commander of the officers deployed to Haiti.The initial batch of officers is composed of elite officers from various specialized response units.

The deployment, however, continues to face opposition from a section of Kenyans, including several activist groups. The deployment was declared unconstitutional by a court in January, a decision the government has challenged. Following the Monday event, lawyer and politician Dr. Ekuru Aukot who led the case questioned Ruto’s move to deploy the officers. On X, he described the Kenyan president as “toiling for the globalists to oppress and plunder our black brothers and sisters in Haiti.”

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The deployment also comes amid nationwide youth-led protests demanding the scrapping of an unpopular finance bill, which proposes several tax hikes. The protests have been characterized by arrests of protesters and use of teargas, water cannons and, in some instances, live bullets. Two protesters have been confirmed killed so far. Several key mobilizers have also been abducted, with protesters continuing to demand for their release.

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Some Haitian human rights groups have already raised concerns on the Kenyan deployment to Haiti citing the police brutality witnessed in the Kenyan protests. The Movement Unforgettable Dessalines Jean Jacques (MUDJJ), last week wrote to the United Nations expressing concern that the conduct of the police in handling domestic protests might foreshadow the use of similar tactics in Haiti.

The deployment of a multinational security force was initially approved by the UN Security Council in October, but has been beset by delays following the High Court ruling in January. A number of countries have so far expressed willingness to support the mission, including Benin, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, and Chad. The United States is providing $200 million to support the mission.

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