Kenyan President Ruto Visits US Amid Progress on Haiti Police Deployment

Kenyan President William Ruto is visiting the United States this week, amid efforts to deepen economic and security cooperation between the two nations and finalize plans for a long-awaited police deployment to Haiti.

The trip comes as the Biden administration seeks to strengthen partnerships with African countries amidst growing competition from its top geopolitical rivals, China and Russia.

Ruto, who will hold talks with President Biden at the White House on Thursday, is also visiting the U.S. as a United Nations-backed initiative to send a Kenyan-led police force to Haiti appears to be solidifying.

The UN Security Council authorized this multinational support mission last year, which supporters argue is needed to help restore security in the Caribbean nation amid years of widespread gang violence and instability. However, a recent wave of deadly attacks by Haitian armed groups, particularly in the capital Port-au-Prince, had delayed the mission’s deployment.

Now, Kenyan officials state that deployment is imminent as a fragile political transition occurs in Haiti, and the country’s main airport in Port-au-Prince has recently reopened. They are finalizing preparations, expecting the deployment to number about 2,500 members, including 1,000 Kenyan police officers.

While the U.S. has assisted in setting up temporary living areas and delivering equipment and supplies for the mission, some sticking points remain between the U.S. and Kenya over financial support and stemming the flow of arms into Haiti.

The decision for Kenya to lead this mission represents years of efforts by Nairobi to build strong security ties with Washington. However, concerns have been raised over human rights issues and lack of public consultation regarding the deployment within Kenya itself.