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The Kenyan soap opera in Hati (9)

  • June 5, 2024
  • 31 Min
  • 4
On November 21, 2023, the Head of State of Kenya, William Ruto, in the capital of the European Union, Brussels.

While the new Prime Minister Garry Conille prepares to take the reins of power in the second post-Jovenel Moïse Transition, we continue our immersion in the heart of what will undoubtedly be the longest political-diplomatic and military soap opera of the history of Haiti.

Tthree days after the adoption of the Resolution of the Permanent Council of the OAS on the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti, the President of the 78e session of the United Nations General Assembly, Dennis Francis, for his part, went to Haiti. He arrived on November 20, 2023 in Port-au-Prince for a short stay of two days. In the Haitian capital, this Trinidadian diplomat had meetings with almost all the actors of the Transition. Dennis Francis was received by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, then there were discussions with political entities, civil society and the world of economic affairs.

As if in response to the Resolution of the Permanent Council of the OAS, the President of the United Nations General Assembly declared on his account X, ex-Twitter, “I am here in Port-au-Prince to express my full solidarity with the Haitian people and convey the message that the international community has not forgotten them. » After the visit of one of the bosses of the UN, a trip which was his first official outing after his election as head of the general presidency of the world organization, it was the turn of the European Parliament to take over and make your voice heard. On November 21, 2023, the Head of State of Kenya, William Ruto, was received in Europe, particularly in the capital of the European Union, Brussels. He came to seek help from European leaders for the expedition he was preparing to mount to the new world as in the good old days of colonization. On the old Continent, the Kenyan President has upped the ante.

The workforce which had been fixed, since the beginning of what looks like a political “novel”, at a few thousand agents suddenly increased to 5,000 men and women according to a latest estimate by the Kenyan number one. To hear William Ruto’s speech to the European deputies, one would believe that it was in Brussels that he discovered or learned the extent of the forces that his men would have to fight once on the ground in the strongholds of the gangs who hold the country and who do not seem in any way impressed or disturbed by the announcement nor by the imminent arrival of these Kenyans, in particular, in Port-au-Prince and Petite-Rivière de l’Artibonite. “ The mission in Haiti will need some 5,000 men and women to meet the challenge posed by armed gangs. EU support will be instrumental in strengthening the initiative, providing the necessary resources and legitimacy,” said the President of Kenya during his speech to the European Parliament on November 22, 2023.

Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva

In truth, this is the first time that an important actor in this new deployment of military force in Haiti has put forward a figure which corresponds more or less to the expected objective in this affair. Knowing that the last major international military mission of the UN in Haiti which lasted almost fifteen years, (2004-2017) MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti), counted more than fifteen thousand men for a overall negative result. In any case, before all the European institutions where he intervened, the Kenyan head of state, William Ruto, had never stopped asking for means to carry out, he said, the mission of which he would only be the ‘performer. He affirmed that it was at the request of the international community that his country agreed to lead this mission, therefore, it is the responsibility of the said international community, not his.

On November 26, 2023, as part of the relations between this institution and the Dominican State (DR), Andrés Lugo Risk, Administrative Deputy Minister of the Dominican Presidency, was in turn invited to Brussels to talk about Dominican relations, but above all of the problem of the Haitian crisis of which the Dominican Republic is on the front line given the physical proximity of the two countries. Among other things, the crisis caused by the construction of a first canal on the Massacre River on the Haitian side while the Dominicans already have more than ten. Coordinator of the Delegation called “ National Pact for the Haiti Crisis”, an organization created by President Luis Abinader in order to monitor in real time the evolution of the crisis and the Transition in Haiti, Andrés Lugo Risk, before European parliamentarians, had pleaded for direct and urgent military intervention in Haiti in order, declared he, to put an end to the ordeal of this country. “ Rather, we urge you to intervene in the pacification of a Nation mired in violence, chaos and instability at all levels.” pleaded the Dominican official to MEPs in Parliament in Brussels.

We are still in Europe, on November 28, 2023, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), like every year, published its Report on the situation of human rights in the world. This year 2023, Haiti was mainly targeted. Associated with the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), the United Nations High Commission, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland, has focused particularly on the situation of gang victims across the country. In this detailed and documented Report, the human rights organization focused on very specific regions such as Artibonite, the metropolitan area of ​​Port-au-Prince, among others, Martissant and Croix-des- Bouquets. “Between January 2022 and October 2023, at least 1,694 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in lower Artibonite. Kidnappings for ransom by criminal groups have become a constant fear for public transport users in lower Artibonite. At least 20 criminal groups including gangs and self-defense groups are currently operating in the Artibonite department, more precisely in the southern part of lower Artibonite.

Some analyzes tend to distinguish criminal gangs from self-defense groups by highlighting the causes of their emergence. However, the facts show that these two actors demonstrate extreme brutality against local populations. The groups also pillage farmers’ properties, crops and livestock and destroy irrigation canals, contributing to the displacement of more than 22,000 people from their villages, significantly reducing the area of ​​cultivated land, thereby increasing the food insecurity. In September 2023, more than 45 percent of the population of lower Artibonite was experiencing acute food insecurity. Gang violence has also left many farming families unable to repay debts or access basic services. Across Haiti, at least 3,960 people have been killed, 1,432 injured and 2,951 kidnapped in gang-related violence this year 2023.

The first visit of Kenyan officials to Haiti

The situation in Haiti is cataclysmic. We continue to receive reports of killings, sexual violence, displacement and other violence – including in hospitals. Faced with the terrible violence against the population that is spreading – inside and outside Port-au-Prince – and the inability of the police to stop them, the Multinational Security Support Mission, essential, must be deployed to Haiti as soon as possible » writes, among others, the Report under the supervision of Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. After the publication of this damning report for the Transitional authorities on the socio-political situation in the country, the government responded with the visit of a Kenyan delegation to Port-au-Prince on Monday, December 4, 2023. Kept silent for several weeks , the news was revealed on the morning of Tuesday 5.

Even the press was not aware of this trip by Kenyan officials to Haiti who, however, met many people, notably the team of the President of the High Council of the Transition (HCT), Mirlande H. Manigat and her two assessors Calix Fleuridor and Laurent Saint-Cyr. But, given a series of bad news during the end of November and the beginning of December, the authorities ended up being satisfied with this long-planned visit. It was through a press note that the Prime Minister made public the visit to Port-au-Prince of the Kenyans on the one hand and the departure in the following days of a high-ranking Haitian delegation to Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, on the other hand. According to the note, the visit of Kenyan officials was made as part of the deployment, soon, of the multinational force in Haiti and that of Haitians in Kenya as part of preparations for the arrival of the mission. “As part of preparation for the upcoming arrival of the Multinational Security Support Mission (MMSS), an imposing delegation from Kenya, accompanied by representatives of the American Administration, had today an important working meeting with the Prime Minister, Dr Ariel Henry, and members of the government. The delegation also met members of the High Council of the Transition (HCT).

She had a long working session with the high command of the Haitian National Police. Furthermore, a high-level delegation from the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the PNH will travel to Nairobi in the coming days for preparations related to the arrival of this mission. », wrote the Haitian authorities. Curiously, the government had not given any name or title of the head of the Kenyan delegation who came to Port-au-Prince nor of the representatives of the American Administration during the first week of December 2023. A mystery, after the fact, which was finally revealed by several sources including the daily The Nouvelliste of December 5, 2023. Indeed, according to these sources, it was, in fact, the National Security Advisor of Kenya, Monica Juma, the Deputy Inspector General of the Administrative Police, Noor Gabow, the head of Kenya Intelligence Service and representatives of other Government Departments from the Kenyan side.

These officials were accompanied by representatives of the Joe Biden Administration including the American Chargé d’Affaires in Haiti, Eric William Stromayer on the United States side. Furthermore, we learned that the Delegation had met with officials of the Haitian police institution with the prospect that the two forces will work together. “The Kenyan delegation was led by the head of intelligence in Kenya and the American Chargé d’Affaires in Port-au-Prince led the American delegation. The officials met in the morning with Prime Minister Ariel Henry who plays the role of Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean Victor Généus, the Minister of Justice and Public Security Emmelie Prophète -Milcé and Defense Minister Enold Joseph. The Kenyan delegation also had a separate meeting with members of the HTC (High Council of Transi tion).

Then, there was a meeting at the PNH General Directorate with the senior police staff. This visit is part of the arrangements for the arrival of the mission. The objective is to find as much harmonization as possible between the Haitian National Police and the Kenyans” reported the rue du Center newspaper. Reacting to the visit to Port-au-Prince of a Kenyan delegation at the beginning of December 2023, the Coordinator of the December 4 Collective, Jean Robert Argand, said he was not expecting anything. According to him, the absence of leadership on the Haitian side would prevent any serious results from an international mission to emerge from the crisis. Jean Robert Argand deplored that the capital had become a bastion of gangs; while, in the lower Artibonite, they are fighting for control of territories which is considered lost to public power according to the declarations of the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Emmelie Prophète Milcé.

“We already know how these meetings take place. Unfortunately, the population is suffering from the absence of leaders who should give the expected results. It’s frustrating and outrageous for the rest of us to experience these catastrophic situations. Our politicians who are the misfortune of our country cannot even find a Haitian solution. It is necessary to strengthen the national forces, namely the Armed Forces of Haiti and the Haitian National Police, in the face of the critical situation the country is going through.” implored the Coordinator of the December 4 Collective. It remained to determine the exact date of the arrival of foreign troops on Haitian soil. Several voices, not the least of which, suggested that this deployment would not take place before the first quarter of 2024. This was the case of Ulrika Richardson, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) who, during a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday November 28, 2023, declared “ The UN hopes that the multinational force in Haiti that will help local police quell the brutal and absolute gang violence will arrive sometime in the first quarter of 2024. Of course, it is very difficult to have an estimate of when they will arrive. in Haiti, it depends on Kenyan justice.

And of course many other elements such as financing, but we hope that they can arrive during the first quarter of 2024. Furthermore, the unpredictable judge of the High Court of Justice of Kenya, Chacha Mwita, estimated that the first members of the military mission could be in Haiti around February 2024 after the order of the Court which should intervene at the mid-January 2024. Remember that at the end of December 2023, still according to Ulrika Richardson, 2,500 men were already available out of the 5,000 estimated to be needed for the landing by Kenyan President William Ruto. While at the United Nations, during an informal meeting on Haiti during the General Assembly on December 18, 2023, the Representative of the United States of America, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, spoke was launched into a long plea for the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti, while congratulating and thanking Kenya for agreeing to lead this mission which, according to her, should bring peace to the country. But there is even more, according to the US Representative.

For the edification of readers, we are publishing a long extract from this speech in which Ms. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, on behalf of the United States, was very loquacious, giving many details and clarifications explaining, for example, that Washington managed to an agreement with its counterparts, notably Kenya, on several essential requirements in anticipation of the maritime surveillance mission, including progress on the concept of operation and use of force. « […] Dear colleagues, there is no shortage of crises that demand and deserve our attention. But we cannot lose sight of what is happening in Haiti. We simply can’t.

So many people are suffering from unrelenting violence, including kidnapping and gang violence and a growing humanitarian crisis. The briefings we have just heard have only highlighted our deep concerns about the dire situation in Haiti and we believe that the Multinational Security Support Mission (MMSS) can play a key role in answering the call from Haiti to international support. It bears repeating that this is not a UN-led peacekeeping operation, but rather a multinational effort led by Kenya, with UN authorization.

And we commend Kenya for its commitment not only to leading this mission, but to leading it with integrity. Kenya is already training its first contingent of officers with a verified and robust UN curriculum. And we will continue to help Kenya establish the mission structure and train personnel for deployment. Last week, planning teams from the United States and Haiti visited Kenya, where we reached agreement on several key requirements ahead of the mission, including progress on a concept of operations and reliance on strength. (…)

The ability of the MMSS to support the Haitian National Police in restoring security to Haiti, as outlined in its mandate, will require sustained attention and resources from all of us. The United States is grateful that the Security Council has requested the establishment of a United Nations trust fund to facilitate voluntary contributions from the international community to the MMSS. And we are grateful to the partners who have already pledged staff, equipment and financial assistance. We too have been firm in our support for this mission. Working with our Congress, we intend to provide up to $200 million for the mission, including $100 million from the State Department and up to $100 million in in-kind support from the Department of Defense. Defense. Today, our ask to the rest of the International Community is simply: join us. We hope that today’s meeting, convened by GRULAC (Group of Latin American and Caribbean States) leaders of the main UN bodies, can inspire more regional support for the mission. And we need Member States to provide direct assistance to the MMSS in the form of staff, funding and in-kind support.

More than that, we must view the mission not as an end, but as part of an overall strategy to provide diplomatic, humanitarian and capacity-building support to Haiti. This involves helping Haiti get on the path to sustainable development. This also involves creating a lasting political solution, with free, fair, transparent and credible elections, something Haiti has not experienced since 2016. To this end, we encourage Haitian political actors to sit down to the dialogue table and to engage in an 18-month political transition. Because while there can be no lasting political solution without security, we also know that the opposite is true. The United States remains committed to combating insecurity in Haiti, both here through the United Nations and bilaterally.

The Haitian people are counting on us to be at their side and support Kenya in its mission, to finally bring stability and hope to their country (…)”.

A real plea for a so-called multinational intervention. But, in truth, by reading this text or this speech, we understand that it is indeed an American affair, a deployment, certainly, of troops from various countries and “officially” commanded by Kenya, but the United States remains and remains the “main contractor”, the big boss, the one who will decide from A to Z, that is to say from the simple basic employee to the last major administrators and directors including the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, Dennis Bruce Hankins, arrived in Port-au-Prince on March 26, 2024, certainly to direct this military occupation and who will, without a doubt, be the leader of the site.

(To be continued)

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Catherine Charlemagne