By Kioko Niamasyo, Kenyans.co.ke, on Thursday, 24 August 2023
The Kenyan government has made a U-turn in the specifics of what police officers deployed to the North American country will do.
According to a report by the Miami Herald, officials from the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and accompanying delegates have told the Haitian government, the United Nations (UN) Representative and foreign diplomats that Kenyan police deployed to the country will not actively fight crime.
Kenya had initially agreed to deploy troops to the troubled country to help dismantle and fight heavily armed gangs that have taken over large parts of the country and wrecked havoc.
Following the U-turn, the Kenyan delegation led by Ministry of Foreign Affairs General Director George Orina informed their Haitian counterparts and other diplomats that Kenyan police officers will now guard key government infrastructure.
This includes; airports, seaports and main roads.
“Most of the critical infrastructure they were quoting are in the hands of the gangs. Before protecting this critical infrastructure, you have to first take them back,” the Miami Herald report detailed.
According to the report, Kenya's proposal has frustrated the diplomatic community. Haitian security experts have also described Kenya's plan as ineffective with submissions by the Kenyan delegation showing that Kenyan units will be known as the Static Protection Force.
The report also shows that in addition to Ministry of Affairs officials, the Kenyan 10-member security assessment team included high-ranking police officials.
Notably, the Kenyan team was accompanied by U.S. soldiers for protection, and the meeting was attended by over a dozen officials from the U.S. State Department.
Besides the shift in the approach towards safeguarding Haiti residents from criminal gangs, Kenya presented certain prerequisites to both Haiti and the US before committing to deploy its officers.
Primarily, despite Haiti's requirement for a minimum of 2,000 policemen, Kenya firmly maintained its stance to dispatch only 1,000 officers.
Furthermore, Kenya emphasised that other nations should also fulfil their equitable responsibilities by contributing their own contingent of police officers.
“This is not what some Haitian government ministers envisioned when they agreed back in October to appeal for the international community’s help,” high-ranking government officials were quoted by Miami Herald.
On July 29, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua announced that Kenya would deploy officers to Haiti to help restore normalcy in the country.
The move was praised by the United Nations and the United States.
The US further announced that it would put forward a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorise Kenya to lead a multinational police force to help combat gangs in Haiti.
Posted August 28, 2023