Kenyan Police Deployment to Haiti Remains Uncertain

Domestic opposition reflected in court actions and public opinion

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By Abayomi Azikiwe

A plan authorized by the United Nations Security Council to send 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti in an effort to restore order amid widespread violence has spawned skepticism in the East African state.

In early October a court challenge by an opposition politician, Ekuru Aukot, resulted in a postponement of the deployment.

Aukot argued before the Kenyan court that the deployment is unconstitutional saying there is no treaty which could provide a legal basis for the UN-endorsed operation in Haiti. As a lawyer, Aukot helped draft the 2010 constitution for Kenya. The politician also claimed that the Kenyan government had failed to secure its own borders against external threats.

The mission to Haiti is ostensibly designed to assist in establishing security in the country of 11 million which is considered the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. If the deployment goes forward it would represent yet another intervention since the 2004 invasion by the United States, France and Canada which removed the government of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and deported him to the Central African Republic (CAR). Taking into consideration these developments, this is why organizations such as the Haiti Action Committee have publicly opposed the latest UN mission.

After the initial intervention by the U.S., Canada and France nearly two decades ago, a UN force took over in Haiti. During this period, there were many documented cases of abuse including murders by the UN troops.

During the period after 2010, there were two major earthquakes which further impacted any attempts to stabilize the social situation in Haiti. The presence of UN troops in the Caribbean Island-nation was blamed for a devastating outbreak of cholera.

Just two years ago then President Jovenal Moise was assassinated in his home prompting calls from elements in the U.S. and Haiti to advocate for another military intervention. A contingent of Pentagon troops was sent into the country by President Joe Biden. These troops were said to be confined to the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince.

Problems with the Kenyan Police

A major concern from people inside of Kenya is the troubled history of law-enforcement in their country. In recent months, mass demonstrations in Kenya against inflation due to the imposition of neo-liberal economic policies were ruthlessly attacked resulting in the deaths and serious injuries of hundreds. If these actions were taken by police during protests, then many are concerned that the level of misconduct and brutality could very well be far worse in Haiti.

President William Ruto introduced a Finance Bill which passed the national parliament in June. The legislation was immediately subjected to a legal challenge temporarily halting its implementation until another ruling in late July unfreezing the new measure.

Many analysts are predicting an even sharper rise in prices which will negatively impact impoverished and working people. Another series of demonstrations occurred in the aftermath of the adoption of the Finance Bill, 2023.

The state of the economy in Kenya is reflective of a pattern across Africa where rising international debt has resulted in the adoption of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank methods for curtailing inflation. However, these IMF-World Bank prescriptions for “economic recovery” have proved to be quite detrimental to the living standards of the masses of people. Governments are compelled to eliminate subsidies on energy resources automatically raising prices on fuel, agricultural products, transportation, education, housing, etc.

Demonstrations in Kenya have been organized largely by the main opposition party Azimio Coalition, led by former prime minister and perennial presidential candidate Raila Odinga. Nonetheless, other parties did participate in the protests along with members of Ruto’s ruling Kwanza Party in some counties.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED, a non-profit organization which monitors police conflict with civilians, said of the situation in Kenya during 2023:

“Police use of excessive force during demonstrations has received widespread criticism from various groups. The Law Society of Kenya, a coalition of 29 human rights organizations such as Amnesty International Kenya and Kenya Human Rights Commission, as well as Western envoys, members of the clergy, and others, are calling for a dialogue between the opposition and the government. Civil society organizations have alleged that the police may be collaborating with a private militia to carry out attacks against civilians. Some opposition lawmakers also claimed that the government had recruited youth to harm Azimio leaders and their supporters during the protests.

With the Kenyan police leading a supposed stabilization mission to Haiti there is a potential for clashes between the people and the police. Although the Kenyan government has indicated that the police are being given intensive courses in French, the people of Haiti have their own language which grew out of an historical experience dating back to the period of enslavement and colonization by Paris.

Haiti has been a focal point for destabilization and underdevelopment since the time of its independence in 1804. Embargoes by Paris and Washington remained in force between 1804 and the U.S. Civil War of the early and mid-1860s.

French indemnity beginning in 1825 forced Haitians to purportedly “repay” the losses of private property, being land, plantations and enslaved Africans during the 1791-1804 period. The U.S. withheld recognition of Haiti as an independent state from the time of the Revolution until the war between the states leading to the legal abolition of involuntary servitude.

In many ways the Haitian Revolution prefigured the national liberation movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean during the post-World War II era. In Kenya, the British colonial system exploited the land and labor of the African people. During the 1950s, when the Kenyan people rose up against colonialism, the British inflicted harsh measures of repression resulting in the torture and deaths of thousands.

Since independence in 1963, successive Kenyan governments have not been able to throw off the neo-colonial system inherited from imperialism. In a recent visit to Kenya by British King Charles III, the monarch expressed his regret over the legacy of colonialism. Yet no apologies were forthcoming. Regarding the U.S., there has never been an apology for the centuries-long system of enslavement since it would raise the question of reparations for the harm done on a systematic level.

Therefore, based upon a similar historical trajectory, Haiti and Kenya should be working together to recuperate the wealth stolen by Britain, France as well as the U.S. Haiti has undergone several occupations by the U.S. during the 20th and 21st centuries. Kenya remains committed to military and economic collaboration with the U.S. and Britain despite being exploited by these two imperialist powers.

Communist Party of Kenya Opposes Police Deployment to Haiti

A statement issued by the Communist Party of Kenya (CPK) through the Department of Propaganda of the Central Organizing Committee (DPCOC) denounces the proposal for sending police to Haiti while pledging their solidarity with the Caribbean nation. The CPK emphasizes that the rhetoric of President Ruto should not be taken seriously as the Kenyan state remains under the influence of the U.S.

Sections of the statement read as follows:

“President Ruto’s attempts to sway public opinion with rhetoric about Pan-Africanism and black solidarity are deemed unconvincing, given his track record of speaking contrary to his actions. The Communist Party exposes Ruto’s double standards, accusing him of being captured by foreign interests, particularly the IMF and World Bank. This highlights the recurring theme of leaders using grandiose speeches to mask their compliance with external powers. The Communist Party of Kenya expresses a lack of trust in the Kenyan police, known for corruption, unprofessionalism, and human rights violations. Recent incidents of police violence during demonstrations further highlight the force’s incapacity to handle pro-people missions. The Party asserts that deploying such a force to Haiti will only serve as a front for the United States’ occupation strategy. In conclusion, the Communist Party of Kenya sees the Kenyan government’s collaboration with the United States as a new means of maintaining global hegemony. The deployment is predicted to worsen the crisis in Haiti, with the Party vowing to hold those responsible accountable in both Kenyan courts and the court of public opinion as the inevitable body bags arrive from Port-au-Prince to Nairobi. This intervention, motivated by imperialist designs on Haiti’s resources, threatens not only the stability of the Haitian nation but also the credibility and integrity of Kenya’s commitment to principles of justice and sovereignty.”

The problems of governance and economic development in Haiti cannot be resolved without a struggle against the imperialist system that is represented by the U.S., Canada, France and other NATO states. Genuine independence and sovereignty for Haiti and Kenya can only be secured through the efforts of the workers, farmers and youth in their quest for total liberation and social emancipation.

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