Kenya Confirms Haiti Deployment On Course As President Ruto Heads to the U.S.

Kenyan police.

Nairobi — The Kenyan government has confirmed plans to deploy police officers to Haiti despite a petition filed in court against the move.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Dr. Korir Sing'Oei said Sunday that the state was finalizing the deployment plans for the officers to depart in the "next few weeks."

"The government is in the process of finalizing preparation to deploy. I can tell you for sure that that deployment will happen in the next few weeks," he told a media briefing on the update of President William Ruto's state visit to the United States.

He denied reports that the Kenyan leader will visit Haiti during his US state visit in which he departs Sunday.

"There is no chance at all for Pres Ruto to go down to Port au Prince as had been alleged," he said.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has declared the planned deployment of police officers to Haiti unlawful, days after the move was challenged in court.

In a statement, the LSK urged President Ruto to respect court orders and uphold the rule of law.

Reports indicate that the deployment of the first batch of Kenyan police to the Caribbean nation could coincide with President Ruto's visit to Washington, where he is scheduled to meet US President Joe Biden on May 23.

"LSK stands at the forefront of upholding the principles of justice, accountability, and the rule of law within our nation," the statement read. "We condemn in the strongest terms possible the willful disregard for the rule of law being demonstrated by the President and government agencies."

Last week, Thirdway Alliance Kenya, led by Dr. Ekuru Aukot, filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the government from sending police to violence-plagued Haiti as part of a UN-backed mission.

Dr. Aukot and Miruru Waweru lodged the complaint on Thursday, arguing that the government had "blatantly disregarded" a January court order prohibiting the deployment as unconstitutional and illegal.

On Saturday, Dr Aukot accused the United States and its allies of meddling in Haiti affairs days after firing the petition in court.

"We wish to state beforehand that the meddling and interference by other nations, especially the United States of America (USA) and its allies, the republic of Kenya and others, remain the cause of the suffering of the people of Haiti," Aukot said in a letter addressed to President Joe Biden and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

His lawsuit states that the petitioners were "reliably informed" that the Kenyan deployment might take place no later than May 23, highlighting the urgency of the application. According to the LSK, the court had earlier this year ruled that the rule of law must be complied with before any deployment is sanctioned.

Haiti has long suffered from poverty, political instability, and natural disasters. The UN-backed multinational force, to be led by Kenya, has been tasked with helping its beleaguered police rein in criminal gangs.

A Haitian official told international news agencies in early May that a first contingent of 200 Kenyan police officers was expected by that date. Although the Kenyan government has not publicly commented on the date, an interior ministry source told AFP that they could arrive by next Tuesday.

Kenya pledged last July to deploy up to 1,000 personnel to Haiti, an offer welcomed by the United States and other nations that had ruled out putting their own forces on the ground. In January, Kenya's High Court ruled that the National Security Council, which authorized the deployment, only had the authority to send the military abroad and not police officers.

The judge, ruling on another lawsuit filed by Aukot, said Kenya could deploy police to a country only if a reciprocal agreement existed. Such a deal was signed on March 1 in the presence of President Ruto and Haiti's then-prime minister Ariel Henry, who was visiting Kenya.

However, the Thirdway Alliance lawsuit accused the respondents, including President Ruto and other top Kenyan officials, of "acting in bad faith" by ignoring the High Court orders. The complaint argued that Haiti was not a "reciprocating country" and had not made any formal request for a police deployment.

"There is no government in place in Haiti capable of making such a request or signing any bilateral agreement with Kenya for the deployment of police officers; and there is no parliament in place in Haiti to ratify such an agreement," it stated.

In March, Kenya announced that it was putting its deployment on hold until a transitional council was installed in Haiti. This decision came after Henry's resignation as the crisis grew even more violent. The council was sworn in late last month and is due to lead the country until fresh polls, with an elected government to take over by February 6 next year.

Aside from Kenya, other countries willing to join the mission under a UN resolution passed in October last year include Benin, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, and Chad.

The situation in Haiti, a country of 11.6 million people, began deteriorating in late February as well-armed gangs that control most of Port-au-Prince and much of the country went on a rampage aimed at toppling Henry.

The United Nations reports that some 360,000 Haitians are internally displaced, with the gang violence forcing 95,000 people to flee the capital and pushing five million into "acute hunger."

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