Haiti debate: Lawmakers summon Kindiki, Koome

Kithure Kindiki

Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Administration of National Government Kithure Kindiki when he appeared before the Regional Integration Committee at Continental House Nairobi on Thursday, August 24, 2023. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The National Assembly Committee on National Administration and Internal Security has summoned Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki and Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome to shed more light on the forthcoming deployment of police officers to Haiti.

Committee chair and Narok West MP Gabriel Ole Tong'oyo told Nation yesterday that the committee had decided to question the officials in an effort to understand the details of the mission before the State seeks Parliament's approval to send 1,000 police officers to the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission.

“We are expecting them in Parliament next week,” the MP said.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Abraham Korir Sing'oei said the government would seek approval from MPs now that the UN Security Council had given the mission the green light.

"Kenya, in line with its commitment to peacekeeping, offered to contribute troops, but only after UN sanction. Now that UNSC Res 2699 (2023) has been adopted, I’m sure the government will fulfil its constitutional obligations and seek the necessary parliamentary authorisation,” he said.

This comes as President William Ruto yesterday revealed that the main task of the "historic" mission will be to create a peaceful environment that will ensure the restoration of governance through a political framework owned and driven by the people of Haiti, as well as the protection of critical infrastructure.

"I am pleased that the Security Council has today responded directly to this call with UNSC resolution 2699 (2023), which mandates the Multinational Security Support Mission to strengthen the Haitian National Police through operational support and other joint activities to enhance its institutional capacity, with the aim of increasing its effectiveness in combating the onslaught of criminal gangs and rampant violent crime, trafficking in human beings, arms and drugs, and other atrocities."

"The mission is also mandated to secure the country's critical infrastructure, including air and seaports, as well as other key transit arteries and crossroads," Dr Ruto said in a statement.

This confirms that the mission will have peacekeeping characteristics, but analysts warn that it won't be a typical peacekeeping mission because this is not an arms struggle between two groups or a regionally defined group, but a gang war whose tactics, including theft, rape and murder, require a different kind of approach.

To avoid a situation where the mission proves to be a mere band aid for the underlying problems in Haiti, President Ruto said the mission would "leave a different footprint in the history of international interventions in Haiti".

"Doing nothing in the face of human suffering is absolutely out of the question. This is a mission for humanity that boldly and directly embraces the founding principles of the United Nations and reaffirms our shared hope that justice will finally be done for the people of Haiti, who have borne the brunt of colonial plunder and oppression, as well as post-colonial retribution and exploitation, leaving them vulnerable to geological, climatic and epidemic disasters," he added.

Likening Haiti's struggles with colonialism to Kenya's long, difficult and frustrating struggle for independence, President Ruto said the mission was of particular importance and urgency for Haitians.

"We have experienced the harrowing brunt of colonialism, as well as the struggle for freedom against those who can influence international institutions to frustrate justice....In our struggle, we have always had friends, not an overwhelming number of powerful allies, but true, loyal and determined friends nonetheless. The people of Haiti, our dear friends, are in need today. It is our fundamental moral obligation to be their true friend by standing with them," the President said.

"We will succeed in Haiti. We must not fail the people of Haiti," the President vowed.

After authorising the mission by 13 votes, with Russia and China abstaining, the UN Security Council also approved the extension of a UN arms embargo to all gangs, rather than just some individuals.

The mission, which is expected to deploy in January, will work closely with the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), a special political mission set up in October 2019 following the end of the 15-year UN peacekeeping mission (MINUJUSTH), on how to strengthen security, identify priority areas and build a relationship with the local police force to reinforce its mandate, not replace it.

Kenya's decision to lead the multinational force is based on its experience in previous peacekeeping missions in Somalia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The officers will work alongside troops from Jamaica, the Bahamas, Barbuda and Antigua, the number of which is now expected to increase following the UN Security Council vote.

"Our nation has an outstanding international record of peacemaking, peace-building and peacekeeping. From East Timor and the former Yugoslavia to Eritrea and Angola to Sierra Leone, we have always been ready and willing to play our part in bringing peace, security and stability. That is why we cannot turn our backs on Haiti. Doing nothing in the face of human suffering is therefore out of the question," said President Ruto.

Haiti requested the mission after months of chaos and deaths, including an estimated 3,000 murders and 1,500 kidnappings for ransom.

The Kenyan police officers will have to familiarise themselves with Haitian law, some common vocabulary and geography before being deployed.