Kenyan police crucial for controlling gangs, says Haiti PM

July 8, 2024  -Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille last week addressed the U.N. Security Council, praising the recently deployed Kenyan police for their vital role in controlling the country’s gangs and advancing toward democratic elections. Conille described the feedback from their initial days in the capital as “extremely, extremely positive.”

Conille outlined his government’s priorities, focusing on combating gang violence and food insecurity, ensuring free elections through constitutional and political reform, and rebuilding public trust in the police.

The initial contingent of 200 Kenyan police arrived in Port-au-Prince on June 25, with Kenya pledging a total of 1,000 officers. Conille confirmed that the next group would arrive soon. The international police force, which will eventually include personnel from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad, and Jamaica, is expected to total 2,500 members.

In 2022, Haiti requested an international force to address gang violence, and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres spent months seeking a country to lead the effort before Kenya stepped forward.

The power of gangs has surged since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021, with estimates suggesting they now control up to 80% of the capital. This increase in violence has led to civilian vigilante groups rising in response.

Conille, a former U.N. development specialist, assumed the role of prime minister last month, appointed by a transitional council. He is tasked with stabilizing the country ahead of democratic elections set for February 2026.

“More than ever Haiti must mobilize all the necessary and available resources to make this transition the last one, a transition that could set it on the path toward peace, security, and sustainable development,” Conille told the council.

He said Haiti intends to “redefine our approaches” to build “strong and effective institutions” by the time the police leave Haiti.

Kenyan police initiate joint operations

Kenya’s U.N. Ambassador Njambi Kinyungu reported that since their arrival, the Kenyan police have held “operational meetings” with the national police and initiated “joint operations.”

In February, coordinated gang attacks on government infrastructure, including roads, prisons, and the Port-au-Prince airport, led to the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry in April. The violence has displaced 580,000 people, more than half of whom are children, according to UNICEF. The World Food Program reports that over 4 million Haitians face food insecurity.

Conille acknowledged the country’s mixed history of foreign intervention, which has included human rights abuses and a “lack of respect for sovereignty and local culture.”

“Haiti must escape the spiral of security missions once and for all,” the prime minister said, stressing the need for “close coordination and constant communication” to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *