Kenya wavers on promise to send peacekeeping troops to Haiti as Haitian Prime Minister resigns News
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Kenya wavers on promise to send peacekeeping troops to Haiti as Haitian Prime Minister resigns

Kenyan President William Ruto confirmed Wednesday that Kenya will be leading the UN Security Support Mission in Haiti as promised in early March, one day after Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Abraham Korir Sing’Oei told the BBC that Kenya would be pausing its promise to send 1,000 troops to lead the UN mission in the wake of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation

On Tuesday, Sing’Oei told BBC News that Kenya would be pausing the planned deployment due to Henry’s resignation. Sing’Oei went on to say that Kenya would wait to make any further decisions about the deployment until a new constitutional authority was installed in Haiti.

Then, on Wednesday, President Ruto appeared to walk back Sing’Oei’s statement, writing:

Had a telephone conversation with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the developments in Haiti. [Secretary Blinken] briefed me on the decision of the Summit of Caribbean Countries (Caricom) and the US, together with other partners, on the political situation in Haiti. He informed me that a new Presidential Council will be formed shortly to manage the situation in Haiti. I assured Secretary Blinken that Kenya will take leadership of the UN Security Support Mission in Haiti to restore peace and security in Haiti as soon as the Presidential Council is in place under an agreed process.

Spokesperson for the US State Department Matthew Miller responded to the uncertainty surrounding Kenya’s troop commitment during a press conference Tuesday, saying:

So we would be concerned, of course, about any delay, but we don’t think there – that there will need to be a delay. If you look at the- what the Kenyan government said in its statement, it’s that they have to have a government with which to collaborate, which has been an important part of their understanding. It’s a perfectly natural thing to expect – that they want to know that there’s a government that can host them, that can make a request for them to deploy a mission.

The dual statements from the Kenyan government come as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met on Monday and released its Outcome Declaration, which confirmed the creation of a Transitional Presidential Council in Haiti, comprised of seven voting members and two non-voting observers, to oversee the transition of power from Henry to his successor. The council members will appoint an interim prime minister, appoint agency heads to assist the interim prime minister and hold the powers due under the Haitian Constitution to the presidency until an elected Haitian government is established. 

Haiti has faced increasing turmoil due to organized gang violence and the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. Since then, gangs have gained control of much of the country, including large parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Violence has increased in the past few weeks after armed gangs stormed a major prison and freed 3,700 prisoners. Amid the tension, the Haitian government extended a state of emergency around Port-Au-Prince, enforcing a curfew and banning all forms of public protest. Henry has been out of the country and stuck in Puerto Rico due to riots at Port-au-Prince’s international airport.