Ruto, Biden Labour to Explain Kenya's Deployment to Haiti

Presidents William Ruto and Joe Biden sharing a moment at the White House Rose Garden, May 23.

Kenya’s planned deployment of police officers to Haiti has been shrouded in controversy and fierce debate since its announcement in October 2023.

Amid rising opposition and skepticism, Presidents Joe Biden of the United States and William Ruto of Kenya sought to clarify the rationale behind the mission during a joint press conference at the White House on Thursday evening.

Biden stressed that the geopolitical complexities of deploying U.S. troops to Haiti, a neighboring country, necessitated an alternative approach. "For us to deploy forces in the hemisphere raises all kinds of questions that can be easily misrepresented about what we are trying to do," Biden explained.

He added, "We set out to find a partner or partners who would lead that effort, and we would participate in not with American forces but with supplies and making sure they have what they need."

The U.S. has committed to supporting the mission through logistics, intelligence, and equipment, but not with troops on the ground. Biden’s administration has pledged substantial financial backing, with $300 million earmarked for the initiative. "We are going to support the collective effort," Biden added, emphasising the U.S. role in facilitating the mission.

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Kenya’s participation in the Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS) in Haiti marks a significant departure from its traditional focus on regional African interventions. Defending the decision, Ruto highlighted Kenya’s commitment to global peace and security. "Kenya's participation in Haiti is about the peace and security of humanity," Ruto asserted. 

Ruto pushed back on claims the US arm-twisted Kenya into sending troops to Haiti, stating, "The US cannot commit Kenya to participate in the Haiti mission. I am the president of Kenya and it is me to make that decision. It is the people of Kenya to commit their own troops using their own structures."

He added, "It's the people of Kenya who made this decision in the interest of serving peace and stability as a responsible global citizen."

The planned deployment has sparked intense debate within Kenya’s Parliament and courts. Critics question the wisdom of sending 1,000 police officers to Haiti while the country grapples with its own security challenges. The mission represents Kenya’s first peacekeeping effort outside Africa, involving police rather than military troops, which has added to the controversy.

However, Ruto maintained that Kenya’s global responsibilities remain undiminished. "I made a commitment to the people of Kenya to sort out insecurity in the North Rift," he noted, detailing ongoing efforts to restore stability and reopen schools in the area. "But that does not take away our responsibility to contribute to global peace."

According to the UN, more than 2,500 people were killed or injured from January to March, and at least 95,000 people have fled the capital, Port-au-Prince. 

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