Kenya's President William Ruto is on the verge of getting parliamentary approval to deploy 1,000 Kenyan police officers to the war-torn Caribbean nation of Haiti.
This comes after the National Assembly Committee on Administration and Internal Security recommended the House's approval.
The government now awaits the approval of the senate after the joint committee of both houses gave the green light for the deployment.
During Thursday morning's plenary session of the national assembly, members approved the request by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki after a heated debate, despite opposition from the minority side.
The request sailed through despite dissent from a member of the committee.
“The committees having received Kenya’s obligations to the UN, its existing legal framework, submissions through public participation and submissions by stakeholders recommends that Parliament approves the proposed deployment of the officers of the National Police Service to the Multinational Security Support (MSS) Mission for Haiti under the provisions of Article 240 (8)(a) of the constitution,” states the report in its recommendations.
Most of the opposition MPs led by Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi registered their disapproval, saying the approval by the House is sub-judice, as the matter is active in court.
Wandayi argued that the petition by Thirdway Alliance and two others was still active before the court and an extension on the conservatory orders was made.
“The House is not in a proper position to deal with the matter. The matter of deployment is very active before the court of law. Indeed, interim orders were issued by Justice EC Mwita on October 6, 2023, effect of stopping attempts to Haiti,” objected Wandayi.
“Further I am reliably informed that the orders were extended indefinitely, hearing is set for the next four days, and the matter will be heard in open court,” he further said.
But the government's side led by Majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah took on Wandayi, saying the Standing Orders of the House allow the speaker to admit consideration of any matter before the House.
“Our standing orders do not stop parliament from doing its constitutional mandate by discussing this matter before the court, so long as we do not go into the substance of the case. It is not sub-judice and the Minority Leader cannot say there are extensions online,” Ichung’wah said.
Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei put the question, concerning the motion and members approved.
In the report tabled in the House on Wednesday, the joint committee observed that the cost of implementing the operation will be borne by the UN and in strict compliance with international laws.
According to the report, no officer has been coerced and has the option to reject the deployment offer. The UN will provide insurance for the National Police Service (NPS) officers as well as provide compensation for any harm suffered by the deployed officers.
The report noted that the security mission to Haiti will be deployed for an initial period of 12 months following the adoption of the resolution. The decision is to be reviewed 9 months after the adoption of the resolution.
“That Kenya is the lead nation for the MSS mission to Haiti which includes Senegal, Burundi and Chad among others. Other partners in the Caribbean and Americas are also in the mission to restore peace, order and stability,” observed the report.
“That the proposed deployment is anchored on the responsibilities of Kenya as a UN member State and as part of the global community of nations. Historically, Kenya has been a leading participant in providing solutions to global security challenges.”
Some lawmakers from the ruling Kenya Kwanza Coalition have in the recent past expressed their reservations about the plan to deploy officers to Haiti.
During a Parliamentary Group meeting at state house last week, some of the MPs are said to have cited local security challenges facing parts of the country that they said would be deprived of personnel in the event of such a deployment.
They told Ruro that the deployment has a potential of compromising the country’s internal security. They cited security challenges in Baringo, Lamu and other parts of the country.
Some are also concerned that the mission may turn disastrous to the police officers. But the president told them that his administration was not reckless to deploy officers without considering their safety.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s party Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) recently asked their MPs to reject the plan when it comes for approval in parliament.
The party said Haiti has no immediate threat to Kenya’s national security and questioned why other nations that share borders with the troubled country were not willing to intervene.