The Cabinet on Friday approved the deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti, jumping one more legal hurdle in the circuitous approvals needed to have the move get legal backing.
A dispatch from State House in Nairobi said the Cabinet had approved the deployment and submitted the resolution to parliament for the needed ratification.
Kenya has offered to lead a Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS) to Haiti, which was last week endorsed by the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Back in Nairobi, the decision by the government to send the troops has been controversial and a lawyer had already gone to court seeking to stop the deployment altogether.
The High Court earlier in the week suspended plans for deployment, temporarily, after the lawyer argued there had been no Cabinet decision on it and that Parliament was being bypassed.
Appearing before a parliamentary committee on Thursday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Professor Kithure Kindiki said the mission was viable, based on a preliminary reconnaissance in Haiti by Nairobi’s senior security officers.
Toured Toussaint Louverture
A dozen senior police officers had toured Toussaint Louverture International Airport and neighbouring sites in Port-au-Prince Haiti, in August and stayed for a few days.
“An assessment of the team that went to Haiti reflects the viability and success of the mission. Kenya had committed to deploy 1,000 officers out of an initial requirement of 2,500 officers and the mandate of the mission is one year upon which thereafter there will be an exit or whatever other arrangement that arises,” Prof Kindiki told the Committee on Administration and Internal Security.
The team that was led by Deputy Inspector General in charge of Administration Police Noor Gabow also held meetings in New York, US, and met with officials from Haitian government to understand the demands of the local population. The US is partly funding the MSS to the tune of $200 million subject to Congress approval.
Already, the officers who will be deployed have been selected ahead of pre-deployment training and other technical arrangements.
“The technical and operational arrangements are ongoing and there will be more pre-mission visits by different players before the actual deployment early next year. Nothing in terms of deployment will happen until the legal requirements have been met,” Prof Kindiki added.
“I am happy to assure the country that we are not taking our officers to Haiti as guinea pigs because our police officers have been engaged in the past very successfully in the United Nations missions to Namibia, Liberia, former Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, East Timor, Cambodia, Croatia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone twice, South Sudan (ongoing), the Democratic Republic of Congo (ongoing) as well as the AU missions in Darfur and Somalia.
“That is why when these discussions were held; our emphasis as a country was only two pre-conditions; that it gets legal backing under UNSC so that we cushion our officers from any harm of a legal nature and to make sure that our law is followed before deployment,” added the CS.
The government intends to deploy more reconnaissance teams composed of members of the National Police Service, Foreign Affairs officials and other critical agencies to Haiti as a basis of due diligence and viability ahead of the deployment.
In the meantime, he said the government was engaging the UN and members of the diplomatic corps on the mission and a team will be travelling to New York to ensure proper legal and diplomatic arrangements are in place.
“I also want to inform the committee and the country that this being an international mission, it shall not cause the expenditure of any government funds because it is a UN-funded mission.”