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Haiti: Kenyan leaders reject UN intervention

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Picture: Sophia Paris / Minustah – Minustah patrol in the Bel Air neighbourhood of Haitian capital Port-au-Prince in 2005. A UN Security Council vote authorised the deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti, a move seen by some Kenyans as a violation of sovereignty and part of the United States’ neo-colonial agenda, the writer says.

By Amanda Yee

On Monday, October 2 the United Nations Security Council voted to authorise a multinational security support mission to Haiti, led by Kenya, to purportedly “fight street gangs”. The UN resolution was passed by the 15-member Security Council, with 13 votes in favour and abstentions from China and Russia.

This vote comes just weeks after Kenyan cabinet secretary for foreign and diaspora affairs, Alfred Mutua, offered to send 1,000 police officers to “help train and assist Haitian police restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations”.

This deployment of foreign troops to Haiti is just the latest in a series of attempts on the part of Western powers spanning decades to subvert the country’s sovereignty and the popular will of the Haitian people.

The UNSC vote also comes just one year after de facto Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry had written a letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres to request a foreign military intervention to assist his government in confronting gang-related violence in the country. The request came after armed groups blocked a key terminal resulting in severe fuel shortages and inflation on basic goods and necessities. In response, the people of Haiti organised large scale demonstrations opposing Henry’s request for military invasion, which were met with brutal repression by police.

Henry came to power in July of 2021 after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, with the backing of the United States, the Organisation of American States, the UN, and the Core Group. Many Haitians see Henry’s leadership as illegitimate, with some even accusing him of orchestrating Moïse’s killing and using the expansion of gangs in the country as pretext for foreign military invasion to advance Western interests.

UN vote part of a “neo-colonial agenda”

Before the UN vote was even authorised this week, other Kenyan officials had harshly criticised Mutua’s offer of foreign intervention, pointing the blame at the United States and Europe for the crisis in Haiti.

“Deploying 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti is an ill-advised mission,” said Kenyan politician and lawyer Ekuru Aukot. “Let the US and France fix the mess they created. Kenya should not be used to clean up their dirt.”

Other Kenyan officials denounced the UN vote as a violation of Haiti’s sovereignty.

In an opinion piece in late September, former Chief Justice of Kenya Willy Mutunga called the deployment “unconstitutional”, saying “[W]e demand that our sovereignty must never be used to subvert the sovereignty of another country without our participation and ultimate consent”.

“Our political leadership and the executive it oversees are so loyal to foreign interests that it has not, even once, sought the help of the Kenyan people to resist foreign interests that seek to exploit, dominate, colonise, occupy, and humiliate our Motherland,” Mutunga continued.

The Communist Party of Kenya also condemned Mutua’s proposal, accusing the US-led Core Group and the UN of attempting to use a “Black face to brutalise Haiti” as part of its “neo-colonial agenda”.

In a statement released in late August, the CPK said, “Just as it has been done in the past through recruitment of Caribbean and African countries, [the deployment of a Kenyan-led security force] is to prevent accusations of racism and oppressive grip of Western foreign powers by having third world nations give their support for the exploitation of Haiti.”

“By agreeing to send troops into Haiti, the Kenyan government is diminishing the sovereignty and self-determination of Haitian people, while preserving the neo-colonial interests of the United States, the Core Group and the United Nations,” the statement continued.

Anti-war groups and progressive organisations such as Codepink, Progressive International, and the International Peoples’ Assembly have also condemned the Kenyan-led security mission.

The Latin American and Caribbean social movement platform ALBA Movimientos said in a statement, “As if sovereignty were a matter of votes, the UN once again passes over the rights of the peoples.

“From ALBA Movimientos we strongly reject this new interference attempt commanded by the United States, Kenya, and other countries that shamelessly believe they have the right to decide over a people that has been demanding for decades, respect for their territory and their sovereign decisions.”

Amanda Yee is a writer and organiser, and an editor of Liberation News. She is based in Brooklyn, New York City.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch