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Kenya to lead international force in Haiti amid gang violence and political turmoil

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Justin Norris

Sep 27, 2023

Kenya’s leader agrees to send troops to Haiti as part of a US-backed plan, but faces criticism from both countries.

Kenyan President William Ruto speaks next to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a news conference in the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany March 28, 2023. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/File Photo(REUTERS)

President William Ruto agrees to send troops to Haiti as part of a US-backed plan but faces criticism from both countries.

Kenya’s President William Ruto has announced that his country will lead an international force in Haiti to combat the rampant gang violence that has plagued the Caribbean nation since the assassination of its former leader Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Ruto announced on Wednesday at a ceremony to establish diplomatic relations with Haiti, which was attended by Haiti’s current Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had requested such a force a year ago.

Ruto said that Kenya, as the leading country in the U.N.-backed security mission in Haiti, will send a special team to assess the situation and devise effective strategies that will lead to long-term solutions. He said that Kenya and Haiti share a common history of struggle for independence and democracy and that Kenya is committed to supporting Haiti’s stability and development.

Haiti has been facing a humanitarian and security crisis, with gangs controlling about 80% of the capital Port-au-Prince, according to authorities. The gangs have been involved in kidnappings, extortion, and clashes with police, leaving many people in fear and poverty. The political situation has also been unstable, with Henry facing allegations of involvement in Moïse’s murder and opposition parties demanding his resignation.

The international community has expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Haiti and called for dialogue and elections. The U.S., which has been pushing for the deployment of an international force in Haiti, welcomed Kenya’s decision and praised its leadership role. The U.S. also pledged to provide humanitarian and security assistance to Haiti.

However, the plan to send troops to Haiti has also faced criticism from some quarters, both in Kenya and Haiti. Some Kenyans have questioned the rationale and cost of the intervention, while some Haitians have expressed skepticism and resentment over foreign interference in their affairs. Ruto said that he respects the sovereignty of Haiti and that the intervention will be done in consultation and cooperation with the Haitian government and people. He also said that he hopes that the intervention will help restore peace and stability in Haiti and pave the way for free and fair elections.

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