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Kenya’s mission to Haiti hits early roadblock

Kenya’s mission to Haiti hits early roadblock

It’s been barely a week since the UN approved Kenya’s proposal to lead a police force to quash Haiti’s gangs – and the wheels are already coming off.

Kenya’s high court on Monday temporarily froze the deployment, citing a lawsuit by a local politician who says President William Ruto’s approval of the plan was unconstitutional. The government has to respond to the lawsuit this week but won’t get a full hearing until Oct. 24.

The Haiti plan, part of Ruto’s bid to raise Kenya’s global profile, has caused broader blowback among Kenyan elites, says Mercy Kaburu, a professor at United States International University in Nairobi. “The situation of Haiti is understandably dangerous, and there are concerns as to why President Ruto has agreed to deploy Kenyan police.”

The country’s main opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has blasted the Haiti mission – and at a time when Ruto is already struggling with broader discontent about the economy. Last week, the president reshuffled his cabinet, moving his foreign minister to the tourism portfolio in a move that suggested infighting within Ruto’s circle.

Will Ruto back down on Haiti? The US and the UN both strongly support the mission, as does the Haitian government.

“He is all in on Haiti,” says Connor Vasey, a Kenya expert at Eurasia Group.

But Kenya’s own courts may yet have the final word.

For more on why Kenya wants the daunting task of battling Haiti’s gangs, see our explainer here.


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