Kenya president says his police will be in Haiti in three weeks

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Kenyan president ‘confident’ in police deploying to Haiti

“I have a team already in Haiti as I speak to you,” Mr Ruto tells the BBC.

“That will give us a frame of what things look like on the ground, the capabilities that are available, the infrastructure that has been set up, and once we have that assessement that we agreed with the Haitian police and the Haitian leadership, we are looking at the horizon of between three weeks and there about for us to be ready to deploy, once everything on the ground is set.”

Last year, Kenya offered to lead a UN-backed multinational security force to restore order to the Caribbean island.

Gangs have taken over much of Haiti, bringing violence and destruction to its besieged capitol, Port-au-Prince, after the president’s assassination in July 2021.

On Friday, two US missionaries were killed in Haiti by gang members.

Mr Ruto tells the BBC that these types of events are “exactly” why his country is preparing to send its police force.

“We shouldn’t be losing people. We shouldn’t be losing missionaries,” he says.

“We are doing this to stop more people from losing their lives to gangs.”

The US is also a part of the multi-national coalition working with Kenya.

“The security situation in Haiti cannot wait,” said a National Security Council spokesperson, adding that President Joe Biden had pledged to support the “expedited deployment” of the force in talks with Kenya’s president.

Mr Ruto says that a base where troops and equipment will be kept – being built in conjunction with the US – is about “70% complete”.

In Haiti, the situation on the ground is growing desperate, and has been described by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as “a living nightmare”.

However, the process of sending armed-assistance has been met with delays.

President Ruto says his government has moved cautiously to ensure the proper security concerns were addressed, including plans for equipment, infrastructure, and building a relationship with Haiti’s police force.

There are also legal delays. The High Court in Kenya has set a date of 2 June to hear concerns from the opposition party challenging the legality of the deployment of Kenya’s police force.

But President Ruto assured the BBC he is legally compliant. Mr Ruto says he has a written agreement with Haiti’s transitional presidential council to ensure Kenya’s presence will be received as a “peacemaking” force and not an occupying force.

The council has signalled it intends to honour the agreement Mr Ruto signed with Haiti’s previous prime minister, Ariel Henry.

Haiti, however, is not the only country in crisis grabbing the attention of Mr Ruto.

The president says he has Kenyans “in 15 different missions globally”, including neighboring Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mr Ruto says he is also in talks with warring factions in Sudan, a country where the “level of human suffering is unacceptable”.

When the BBC asked if he feels the international community has lost focus on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Mr Ruto replied: “Yes, it has.”

“I think what’s happening in Ukriaine, what’s happening in the Middle East, has taken some focus off of what’s happening in Sudan and our region,” he says.

Mr Ruto says that all of these situations require equal attention, a point he says was discussed with Mr Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit this week.

The White House on Thursday named Kenya a non-Nato ally, making it the first sub-Saharan African country to receive that designation.

The non-Nato ally status will allow Nairobi to engage in closer security cooperation with Washington and obtain more sophisticated US weapons.

Although the measure strengthens US-Kenya diplomatic ties, Western influence in Africa has been on the decline, polls show, giving way to Russia and China.

When the BBC asked Mr Ruto if the US was a preferred ally, he replied: “It’s not a question of people trying to say whether we are facing west or facing east.

“We are facing forward.”

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