Kenya, Haiti sign agreement allowing police deployment

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NAIROBI, March 1 (Reuters) – Kenya and Haiti signed a security deal on Friday that Nairobi hopes will satisfy a domestic court’s objections to its plan to send 1,000 police officers to lead a U.N.-approved mission aimed at tackling gang violence in the Caribbean nation.

Kenya announced plans in July last year to lead the mission to Haiti, where gangs control most of the capital and nearly 5,000 people were killed in the violence last year.

But Kenya’s High Court ruled the deployment, initially expected by January, unconstitutional in the absence of a “reciprocal arrangement” with the host government.

That has effectively placed the entire mission on hold, even as the United States and Canada have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to it, and some countries have committed armed personnel.

On Friday, Kenyan President William Ruto said an agreement had been signed with Haiti.

“I am pleased to inform that (Haiti) Prime Minister Ariel Henry and I have witnessed the signing of this instrument. We have also discussed the next steps to enable the fast-tracking

of the deployment,” Ruto said at the signing ceremony.

Haiti requested help in 2022 as the violence surged but could not find a country willing to lead a mission.

Many governments have been wary of intervening to support Henry’s unelected administration in a nation where previous missions have been dogged by human rights abuses.

Besides Kenya, the Bahamas has committed 150 people, and Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda said they were willing to help. Earlier this week, Benin offered 2,000 troops.

Armed clashes involving gangs, police and vigilantes rocked Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday in what a gang leader said was a demonstration against the authorities.

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