Kenyan President Ruto says Haiti mission to go ahead soon despite court ruling

Kenyan President Ruto says Haiti mission to go ahead soon despite court ruling
President William RutoKenya presidency/X

A Kenyan opposition leader has accused President William Ruto of planning to defy a court ruling against the set deployment of police to Haiti.

Ekuru Aukot, who last week successfully challenged the planned deployment in court, says the president can only deploy the army and not the police.

The court said the mission was illegal.

Mr Ruto said on Tuesday the mission could go ahead “as soon as next week” if all the paperwork was done to satisfy the demands of the court.

Last November, the Kenyan parliament ratified the deployment of 1,000 officers to lead a multinational force in Haiti, where gangs are attempting to expand their territorial control.

But last week, a judge said Kenya’s National Security Council, which is led by the president, does not have the authority to deploy regular police outside the country.

It added that the council can only deploy military, not police, for peacekeeping missions such as Haiti.

The court also said there must be a reciprocal agreement between the two countries before the deployment.

Delivering the ruling, Justice Chacha Mwita praised Kenya’s offer to deploy police to Haiti, but said it needed to be carried out within the law.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Italy-Africa summit in Rome, Mr Ruto on Tuesday told Reuters news agency that he expected a request would come soon that would satisfy the demands of the Kenyan court.

“The mission is on course. The mission is a bigger calling to humanity,” he added.

Asked if there were efforts for Haiti to get the necessary request, Mr Ruto said: “Absolutely.”

“Haiti have actually written formally, not today, several months ago,” he added.

Korir Sing’oei, a senior official in Kenya’s foreign ministry, in a series of posts on X, said that the deployment of the police abroad would not be unconstitutional if conducted under a bilateral reciprocal arrangement.

But Mr Aukot says the deployment requires more than just the bilateral agreement between the two countries.

“Appreciate the wisdom of Justice Mwita on a ‘service’ and a ‘force’. As per law and the constitution, you can not deploy a police service outside Kenya,” Mr Aukot posted on X, accusing the foreign affairs official of misleading the president.

During the Tuesday interview, Mr Ruto stressed that it was a police rather than a military operation.

The Kenyan government said it would appeal against the court ruling.

The US said last week that it supports the Kenyan government’s intention to challenge the ruling.

But the Kenyan opposition on Tuesday warned the US against meddling in Kenya’s internal affairs.

It is unclear when the Kenyan government would launch the appeal in court and whether other countries who pledged to send smaller forces to boost the multinational mission would consider going it alone.

Among those who planned to send forces were the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, with the US pledging $200m (£158m) to support the deployment.

A UN envoy said last week that the Haiti gang violence had reached “a critical point”, with nearly 5,000 deaths reported last year.

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Source: bbc.co.uk

By David Ryckman