By Ebi Kesiena
Kenya’s President William Ruto on Tuesday welcomed the UN Security Council’s resolution to send a multinational armed force led by the East African nation to Haiti to help combat violent gangs.
President William Ruto’s remarks came hours after a vote at the United Nations, marking the first time in almost 20 years that a force would be deployed to the troubled Caribbean nation where gang violence has escalated dramatically with killings, kidnappings and rape.
According to Ruto, the Kenya-led force will provide a different footprint in the history of international interventions in Haiti.
“We shall succeed in Haiti.
“We must not fail the people of Haiti,” Ruot added.
The resolution, drafted by the United States and Ecuador, authorizes the force to deploy for one year, with a review after nine months. The non-U.N. mission would be funded by voluntary contributions, with the U.S. pledging up to $200 million.
It wasn’t immediately clear how big the force would be but Kenya’s government had earlier proposed 1,000 police officers.
Ruto did not specify when they would be deployed, but Kenyan Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua on Monday night said it would happen “within a short time.”
Earlier, Mutua said Kenya was waiting for the vote at the Security Council but that logistics planning was underway and that key Kenyan officers were taking French lessons to bridge the language barrier with Haitians.
Also, Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome expressed optimism that the peacekeeping mission would be a success.
“Yes, we are going to Haiti, we shall lead that mission,” Koome said.
“We have never failed,” he added.
However, Kenyan police have long been accused by watchdogs of corruption, use of deadly force, torture and other abuses.
An ex-police officer considered by many to be Haiti’s most powerful gang leader Jimmy Chérizier, also known as “Barbecue”, has warned that he would fight any international force deployed to the country if it committed any abuses.
However, Kenya offered to lead the Haiti mission, citing its history in global peacekeeping missions, as well as ties between Africa and Haiti, where most of the population is of African descent.