Kenya Says Haiti Deployment Due in ‘Next Few Days, Few Weeks’

On February 29, gang violence erupted in the downtown area of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince while then prime minister Ariel Henry was visiting Kenya to seek an agreement for the deployment of foreign forces in Haiti to fight organized crime. The gangs said their goal was to prevent the prime minister from returning to the country. Kenyan police will deploy to Haiti within weeks to lead a UN-backed multinational mission aimed at tackling gang violence, a senior government official in the East African country said on Sunday. “That deployment will happen in the next few days, few weeks,” Korir Sing’Oei, Kenya’s principal secretary for foreign affairs, told reporters, shortly before President William Ruto travels to Washington to meet US counterpart Joe Biden on May 23. Haiti has suffered from poverty, political instability and natural disasters for decades, and the multinational force has been tasked with helping its beleaguered police rein in criminal gangs. Kenya pledged last July to deploy up to 1,000 personnel to Haiti, an offer welcomed by the United States and other nations that had ruled out putting their own forces on the ground. But the mission has faced legal challenges, with Kenyan petitioners in an ongoing case accusing Ruto’s government of “blatantly” ignoring a January court order prohibiting the deployment as unconstitutional and illegal. According to the latest lawsuit, petitioners had been “reliably informed” that the deployment may take place no later than May 23, “hence the urgency of this application”. A Haitian source had told AFP in early May that a first contingent of 200 Kenyan police was expected by that date. A source in the Kenyan interior ministry told AFP they could arrive by next Tuesday. In January, Kenya’s High Court ruled that the National Security Council – which authorized the deployment – only had the authority to send the military abroad and not police officers. The judge said Kenya could deploy police to a country only if a reciprocal agreement existed. Such a deal was signed on March 1 in the presence of Ruto and Haiti’s then prime minister Ariel Henry, who was visiting Kenya. But in a fresh challenge filed on Thursday by a small opposition party, Thirdway Alliance Kenya and its leaders Ekuru Aukot and Miruru Waweru, petitioners said Ruto and other top officials were “acting in bad faith” by ignoring the High Court orders. The complaint, which wants the government found in contempt of court, argued Haiti was not a “reciprocating country” and that it had not made any formal request for a police deployment. “There is no government in place in Haiti capable of giving such request or signing any bilateral agreement with Kenya for deployment of police officers to Haiti; and there is no Parliament in place in Haiti to ratify such agreement,” it said. On Sunday, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) said it too opposed the planned deployment, calling it “unconstitutional and illegal”. “We condemn in the strongest terms possible the willful disregard to the law being demonstrated by the President and the government agencies,” LSK said. Kenya had announced in March that it was putting its deployment on hold until a transitional council was installed in Haiti, after Henry quit as the crisis grew even more violent. The council was sworn in late last month and is due to lead the country until fresh polls, with an elected government to take over by February 6 next year. Aside from Kenya, other countries who have voiced willingness to join the mission agreed under a UN resolution in October last year include Benin, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados and Chad. The situation in Haiti, a country of 11.6 million people, began deteriorating in late February as well-armed gangs that control most of Port-au-Prince and much of the country went on a rampage they said was aimed at toppling Henry. The United Nations says some 360,000 Haitians are internally displaced, with the gang violence forcing 95,000 people to flee the capital and pushing five million into “acute hunger”.

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‘Have They Gone Crazy?’: Putin Talks on Peace Meeting on Ukraine, Sanctions and National Security

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the second day of his visit to China, took part in the opening ceremonies of the eighth Russian-Chinese EXPO and the fourth Sino-Russian Forum on Interregional Cooperation in Harbin and held the press conference, summarizing the state visit. In the Ukraine conflict, Russia will proceed from the real conditions on the ground when resolving the issue; it will not be possible to impose anything on Moscow in terms of negotiations, Putin said at a press conference following his visit to China. “We were ready to discuss, then they discarded it, wanting to gain an advantage on the battlefield and achieve a strategic position. Well, now here are our conditions. Have they gone crazy? Why would we? Undoubtedly, we will base our actions on the realities on the ground,” he said. The president pointed to China as a stakeholder that was sincerely trying to put an end to the conflict in Ukraine, adding that and his Chinese counterpart shared about his recent trip to Europe and his position on peace initiatives. “We believe that China is sincere about its efforts to solve this problem. It has suggested different options and has been very flexible about it,” Putin said. In addition, in his conversation with journalists, the Russian leader touched upon the impact of anti-Russian sanctions, the possibility of sending military troops from Western countries to Ukraine and, last but not least, the issue of the legitimacy of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose five-year presidential term officially ends on May 20. Presidential elections in Ukraine were to take place on March 31, 2024, and the inauguration of the newly elected head of state would take place in May. However, the elections were canceled due to martial law and general mobilization. Zelensky stated that elections now are “not the right time,” emphasizing that this issue should be put to rest. More statements from Russian President Putin made at the press conference: Russia wants to understand whom it can trust before engaging with partners on the Ukrainian conflict; “We must understand with whom and how we can engage and whom and to what degree we can trust. We are of course analyzing everything that is going on,” Putin told reporters. In the matter of resolving the Ukrainian crisis, Russia will not allow ultimatums to be presented to it; Russia will not discuss formulas about which it knows nothing, but Moscow has never refused negotiations on Ukraine; there is a basis for the negotiation process – the Istanbul agreements of 2022; “We have a framework for negotiating process, which is what we agreed on in Istanbul … The head of the Ukrainian delegation signed up to that long document. He initialed it. We have a document with his signature on it,” the president said. WATCH: Full Putin’s answer to a question about Ukrainian issues in the context of negotiations with Xi Jinping in China Formulas for peace in Ukraine based on wishes and not on the real situation cannot be discussed; “First they tried to deal a strategic defeat but failed. Any attempt to force [Russia’s] hand will have the same result,” the president warned. Russia is “not seen” at the peace conference on Ukraine in Switzerland. “If it is not seen – so be it”; “They do not invite us. Moreover, they say that they do not see us there,” Putin said at a press conference. There are no plans to take Kharkov as of today; the military’s actions in the region are in response to the shelling of Belgorod; “As for Kharkov, there are no such plans as of today,” Putin told a press conference, when asked about Russia’s plans regarding the city. Zelensky’s legitimacy matters to Russia if “fateful” documents have to be signed; “To a certain extent, he was also involved in our contacts with foreign partners through military-technical cooperation, because the military-technical service, the federal service, was under the Ministry of Defense, he actually headed it. Therefore, he will have his work cut out, it is all combined together,” Putin said. First, Russia needs to understand whether French troops will be in Ukraine, and then consider courses of action; “I am not the French president, I do not make decisions … First, you will get an answer to your question: if there will be troops there or not. And then we will consider the possible consequences of this step,” Putin noted. Russia intends to concentrate administrative resources to achieve the results it needs within the scope of conducting the special operation; The Ukraine Peace Forum in Switzerland is an attempt to impose conditions on Moscow; it will fail, as will the attempt to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. “It is clear what this event is all about: bringing together as many countries as possible to claim that they have everything agreed on and then giving Russia an ultimatum,” Putin said, adding he would not have it.

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