Kenyan politician vows fresh challenge to Haiti police deployment

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NAIROBI,- A Kenyan opposition leader said on Wednesday he would launch a fresh court challenge to a plan to send police officers to gang-ravaged Haiti, after the two countries signed a deal last week intended to fast-track the stalled deployment.

Ekuru Aukot told Reuters the agreement between President William Ruto and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry was invalid and failed to address objections by the judge who blocked the deployment in January following a lawsuit by Aukot’s party.

Kenya announced last year it would lead a multinational force in Haiti, where gang violence has killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands, but months of legal wrangling have effectively placed the entire mission on hold.

Ruto said at a signing ceremony on Friday that the agreement with Henry would speed up Kenyan officers’ arrival in Haiti, but his government has not provided a timeline or published the deal.

“We still intend to challenge this in court. We are just waiting for the government to make its next move,” Aukot said, adding he could seek a contempt finding if the government tried to deploy the officers without express court approval.

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A High Court judge ruled in January the officers could only be sent to Haiti if a “reciprocal arrangement” was in place with the host government.

Aukot said Henry, who came to power after the 2021 assassination of President Juvenal Moise, does not have the legal legitimacy to enter into such an arrangement. He also said Haiti’s laws governing the police were not similar enough to Kenya’s to make a reciprocal agreement possible.

Kenya’s government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Henry’s visit to Kenya sparked violence at home and calls by a top gang leader for him to step down. His government declared a state of emergency on Sunday after inmates escaped in two major prison breaks.

Henry landed in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, following days of uncertainty around his whereabouts. It was not clear how and when he would return to Haiti.

Source: Reuters