Kenya confirms security mission to Haiti as transitional administration plans collapse

Kenya AP - Odelyn Joseph
MAR 14, 2024 LISTEN
AP - Odelyn Joseph

Kenya's President William Ruto has reportedly confirmed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that plans to send a security mission to Haiti are going ahead, as moves to create a transitional presidential council in Port-au-Prince appear to have collapsed.

Secretary of State Blinken said Wednesday that President Ruto confirmed plans to send a Kenyan-led security mission to Haiti and expected progress in the coming days on a transitional council, although any moves towards finding political consensus in Porte-au-Prince appear to have failed.

Kenya has offered to lead a security mission – largely funded by the United States and Canada – to violence-ravaged Haiti but said the mission was on hold after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned on Monday in a deal pushed by Caribbean leaders and the United States.

Confirming an account by Ruto, Blinken said he spoke to the Kenyan leader by telephone and discussed a transitional council that was being formed to name a new prime minister ahead of elections.

Ruto "confirmed Kenya's preparedness to lead that mission just as soon as this new council is stood up – which we believe will happen in the next couple of days – and an interim president is elected," Blinken said.

Blinken acknowledged the challenges ahead for Haiti, where public order has broken down and armed gangs control most of the capital.

No agreement on transition plan

However, the proposal to install new leadership in Haiti appeared to be crumbling by Wednesday evening, as some political parties rejected the plan to create a presidential council that would manage the transition.

The plan entails the creation of a panel that would be responsible for selecting an interim prime minister and a council of ministers that would attempt to chart a new path for the country that has been overrun by criminal gangs.

The violence has closed schools and businesses and disrupted daily life across the Caribbean nation, leaving dozens dead.

Jean Charles Moïse, an ex-senator and presidential candidate who has teamed up with former rebel leader Guy Philippe, held a news conference Wednesday to announce his rejection of the proposed council backed by the international community.

Moïse has insisted that a three-person presidential council he recently created with Philippe and a Haitian judge should be implemented.

His ally, Philippe, who helped lead a successful revolt in 2004 against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and was recently released from a United States prison after pleading guilty to money laundering, said no Haitian should accept any proposal from the international community.

Philippe accused the international community of being complicit with Haiti's elite and corrupt politicians and urged Haitians to take to the streets.

Other high-profile Haitian politicians also declined to participate in the proposed transitional council.

Haitian PM in exile

Caribbean leaders who announced the plan for the transitional council have not yet responded to the impasse.

The transition proposal emerged late Monday, following a meeting involving Caribbean leaders, US Secretary of State Blinken and others who are searching for a solution to halt Haiti's violence.

Hours after the meeting, Henry announced Tuesday that he would resign once the council was in place, saying that his government "cannot remain insensitive to this situation.”

Henry remains locked out of Haiti because gang attacks have shuttered the country's airports.

He is currently in Puerto Rico.