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Kenyan High Court blocks parliamentary authorisation of police mission to Haiti

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Picture: Logan Abassi / UN / Taken on March 20, 2011 – The high court in Nairobi will issue a ruling on a legal challenge to the deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police forces to Haiti as part of a “multinational force”. The US- and UN-backed mission has been condemned as yet another attempt to undermine the sovereignty of the Haitian people.

By Peoples Dispatch

A High Court in Nairobi has extended its orders blocking the deployment of Kenyan police officers to Haiti. The ruling was issued by Justice Chacha Mwita on November 16, shortly after the parliament approved a request by the government to authorise sending 1,000 officers to Port-au-Prince.

The Kenyan contingent is set to lead a US- and United Nations-backed “Multinational Security Support” (MSS) mission which will intervene in the Caribbean country to ostensibly “re-establish security in Haiti and build security conditions conducive to holding free and fair elections”.

The deployment has been vehemently rejected by the Haitian people, who have taken to the streets in mass protests against “foreign occupation”.

On October 2, the UN Security Council approved the US-drafted resolution for a year-long MSS mission to Haiti, whose mandate would include the protection of “critical infrastructure” and to provide “operational support” to the Haitian National Police, including through joint security operations. It is important to note, however, that this would not be a “non-UN force”, raising significant concerns surrounding accountability.

Kenya and Haiti established diplomatic ties in September, and Nairobi had also dispatched an “assessment mission” to Port-au-Prince in August, a visit criticised by civil society organisations both within Haiti and abroad.

On October 9, the High Court in Nairobi issued a “conservatory order” halt on the planned deployment until a legal challenge brought by the Thirdway Alliance party could be heard. The Party’s leader, Dr Ekuru Aukot, has contested that the mission is in violation of Kenya’s constitution, and is not backed by any law or treaty.

The temporary orders were subsequently extended. Thursday’s vote in parliament was held despite the interdict being in place. On November 16, Justice Mwita announced that he would issue a ruling on the matter on January 26, 2024, effectively putting the deployment on hold.

“Despite there being a court order against deployment dated October 25, 2023, by Justice Enock Mwita, a belligerent and politically expedient parliament … went ahead to approve what’s challenged in court as an illegality to deploy 1,000 police officers to Haiti. Kenya has no leadership but puppets of [the] US, France, and Canada,” Aukot posted on X.

Meanwhile, the country’s Interior Minister, Kithure Kindiki, told parliament last week that the cost of implementing the mission, which for Kenya is estimated to stand at around US$ 240 million, would be “borne through voluntary contributions by United Nations member states and organisations to a trust fund”.

Prior to the UN Security Council vote, the US had already pledged US$ 100 million for the deployment.

Nairobi and Washington DC also signed a defence agreement in September, with Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin stating that the US was ready to provide “robust financial and logistical assistance” for the mission in Haiti.

Aside from Kenya, Senegal, Burundi, Chad, Belize, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname, the Bahamas, Spain are among countries intending to contribute personnel, funds or equipment for the mission, as have, reportedly, Italy, Mongolia, Guatemala, and Peru.

Denouncing the fact that the Kenyan government was participating in the mission without consulting the citizenry, the country’s former Chief Justice, Willy Mutunga, wrote: “We refuse a foreign policy in our name that we have not consented to. We demand that Kenya should stop fighting proxy wars for imperialism … We must also demand that the UN and the US must respect our sovereignty and our Constitution.”

The Communist Party of Kenya (CPK) has steadfastly rejected the deployment of Kenyan forces to Haiti, warning that the government was “diminishing the sovereignty and self-determination of Haitian people, while preserving the neo-colonial interests of the United States, the Core Group [Germany, Brazil, the US, France, Canada, Spain, the European Union and the Organisation of American States] and the United Nations”.

In a statement on November 14, the party also emphasised that the “crisis in Haiti is not merely a result of gang violence but a deliberate problem orchestrated by the imperialist core,” adding that Haiti’s historic revolution in the 19th century had “marked” it for “continued interference and retaliation by imperialist forces.”

US history in Haiti

The US — which is now pushing for a foreign intervention in the name of the Haitian people — itself has a long history of direct occupation and interference in Haiti. The US-backed coup against democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 also opened the door for a UN-led occupation of Haiti which would last about 15 years, marred by instances of abuse, violence, and a deadly disease outbreak.

The re-deployment of foreign forces is being readied at a time when Haiti has been facing a protracted political crisis, which escalated following the assassination of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2021.

De facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was swiftly recognised by western imperialist powers despite not being elected by the Haitian people, subsequently called for foreign intervention in 2022.

Having completely disregarded the self-determination of the Haitian people in charting their way out of the present crisis, the deployment of foreign forces is being seen as yet another attempt by the US and the Core Group to enforce its will upon Haiti, especially amid talks of holding long-delayed elections.

“The political objective of this [mission] is to try to have a kind of apparent calm to organise elections through the creation of a new provisional electoral council,” Henry Boisrolin, a member of the Haitian Democratic Committee, had told Barricada TV during an interview.

“We call them ‘selection elections,’ where they will impose someone who will sustain and reproduce the current power that is nothing more than a power in function of a neocolonial state,” he added.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch