President Ruto flags off first 400 group of police for UN peace mission in Haiti

President William Ruto on Monday flagged-off the first 400 group of police officers for the United Nations peace mission in Haiti.

The President expressed confidence that the Kenyan contingent, together with others from contributing countries, will help in returning lasting peace in the conflict-ravaged Haiti.

Speaking at the National Police College, Embakasi Campus in Nairobi, President Ruto told the officers that they were selected for the peace mission on the basis of their integrity, professionalism and capabilities.

He handed the peace mission the Kenyan flag during the event attended by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, President’s National Security Advisor Monica Juma, Inspector-General Japeth Koome and Deputy Inspectors-General of Police Douglas Kanja and Noor Gabow.

“This mission is one of the most urgent, important and historic in the history of global solidarity. It is a mission to affirm the universal values of the community of nations, a mission to take a stand for humanity,” President Ruto said.

Pointing out that the people of Haiti were the first to liberate their land from slavery and colonialism, the President, however, said their freedom was short-lived as it was undermined by forces that sabotaged the progress.

Speaking to the 400 officers, he said: “We will support and pray for you. As a country, we respect the rule of law, freedom and democracy. This is why we want you to help the people of Haiti achieve these values that they have been denied by criminal gangs.”

Consequently, the President pointed out, Haiti has faced continuous onslaught by external and internal forces, causing instability, leading to the loss of thousands of lives, extinguishing countless dreams and depriving millions of basic social services.

This has subjected millions to harrowing poverty, hardship, and disease, he said.

“Currently, Haiti is torn apart by vicious gang violence, which has diminished the State’s capacity to function and provide essential services. Development cannot take place under these conditions and, if nothing is done, millions of children, women and men will continue to suffer without the prospect of relief,” the President said.

He told the officers that the international community has the confidence in Kenya to lead the peace mission in Haiti.

“Kenya is a proud member of the international community in good standing. We also have an outstanding global, Pan-African and regional peacekeeping track record, having made exemplary contributions to 47 missions,” he said.

The President added that Kenya is renowned as a peace-making nation, determined to show to the world the power of peaceful dispute resolution through dialogue and negotiation.

“We have mediated many conflicts and are currently engaged in resolving more. Don’t let down the confidence the people of Kenya and the international community have in you,” President Ruto implored the officers.

“The Inspector-General and Deputy Inspectors-General have assured me that, in addition to the high-level training each of you has received in your respective units, you have acquired the the necessary exposure for this mission, including a grasp of both French and Haitian Creole during this preparatory period,” the President said.

He exuded confidence that the inter-agency team that was training the contingent has done its work well in preparing and establishing what is required to support the mission, including operational protocols to guide it.

“You are undertaking a vital mission that transcends borders and cultures. Your presence in Haiti will bring hope and relief to communities torn apart by violence and ravaged by disorder,” he said.

He said the Haiti Transitional Presidential Council and the Prime Minister have shared with him their expectations that the officers will support the Haitian police in restoring public safety and security.

“As you perform this role, you are expected to embody the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, bearing in mind that you are representatives of our country and our ambassadors of stability and security,” the President told the officers.

At the same time, President Ruto assured the officers that the government would improve their working conditions and welfare.

He announced that beginning next month, the government will increase the salaries of police officers in line with the recommendations of the taskforce that was led by former Chief Justice David Maraga.

President Ruto noted that reforms were being undertaken to ensure security officers discharged their duties effectively.

“In an effort to secure the country from internal and external aggression, the government is implementing a police equipment modernisation programme at a cost of KSh25 billion,” said President Ruto.

Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki thanked the President for the police modernisation programme, saying it was making the officers effective in their work.

On Haiti, he said the country was making history in the deployment of police officers for the peace mission in Haiti.

“In the past, participation of police officers has been limited. But we are now making history in the deployment of our police officers to the peace mission in Haiti,” he said.

Mr Koome said the officers had undergone thorough training since October last year.

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