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IS KENYA’S MISSION TO HAITI WORTH IT?

By Charles Okech

Kenya has over time attracted significant interest, both at the regional and international levels, owing to various factors that have captured widespread attention. Presently, Kenya’s diplomatic strategy is poised to introduce a fresh narrative in the context of Haiti, taking the helm in a collaborative international endeavor aimed at restoring stability to the nation of Haiti. This decision, whose rollout is in the offing, has attracted much attention, yet again from national to international levels with mixed feelings about Kenya’s immersion into the Caribbean State.

Before we get any further, it’s essential to delve into Haiti’s current state and understand its prevailing circumstances. Haiti is the oldest country of African descent with 219 years of existence. In the midst of the Caribbean, Haiti stands to be the home of about 11 million. This nation has been plagued with violence and a state of anarchy over the decades. Its dominant characteristic known world over is that it is greatly infested with deadly gangs. To the extent that these gangs have assassinated four presidents.

If you were to inquire about the underlying motivation for this situation, a significant number of individuals in Haiti would attribute it to the longstanding deficiencies in the political and governance systems, which have continually denied Haitians access to improved living conditions. Moreover, an undeniable aspect of exacerbating the situation has been different gangs taking up arms against each other. Such circumstances have led to the displacement of about 200,000 Haitians who have sought shelter in other territories as Refugees.

  Given Haiti’s long history of political instability, violence, and economic struggles, the current situation is undoubtedly dire. Consequently, deployment of Kenya’s police to the Francophone state provides grounds for mixed reactions. In this context, Kenya’s government officials, including the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, cited Pan-Africanism as one of the motivations for Kenyan law enforcement officers to take base in Haiti. A morally outright position for the country to stand in, one would argue. However, critical questions have been raised with regard to Kenya’s capacity to handle the duty that stands before multinational operations. Even more, bearing in mind the failed operations that took place from 2004 to 2017. Thirteen years of immense strides to no avail.

As it stands, concerns are high amongst Kenyans with regard to the process of law enforcement when Kenyan police boots shall touch Haiti. This is bearing in mind the somewhat ruthless character that has been associated with the Kenyan police, such as use of excessive force as witnessed in the recent rounds of protests in Kenya. For these and many more reasons, many Kenyans stand opposed to the mission.

Most important is for Kenyans to be on the lookout for any rearrangements with regards to this mission as the Kenyan High Court had put a pause to the mission in a recent ruling. Whereas Kenya stands at an hour of great inspiration, let us not overlook the potential drawbacks accompanying this mission. All voices must be heard and given due consideration before any further engagements.

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