Kenyan police arrival in Haiti delayed, Kenya's President Ruto affirms commitment

FILE PHOTO: A view of a makeshift barricade built by residents out of abandoned vehicles to block a road and prevent gangs from entering their community, in Port-au-Prince

By Aaron Ross

NAIROBI (Reuters) -The deployment of the first Kenyan police officers to Haiti to lead an international anti-gang force has been delayed after a planned flight from Nairobi was postponed on Tuesday, two sources briefed on the matter told Reuters.

U.S. officials had previously indicated that the officers would be in Port-au-Prince by Thursday to coincide with Kenyan President William Ruto's state visit to the White House.

Speaking at a joint news conference with U.S. President Joe Biden, Ruto reiterated Kenya's commitment to sending the officers to Haiti.

Kenya volunteered in July to lead the mission but has faced repeated delays deploying due to litigation brought by opponents of the government's plan and a surge of violence in March that led the Haitian prime minister to resign.

The mission, which will comprise up to 2,500 personnel, is intended to counter gangs who control most of Port-au-Prince and have carried out widespread killings, kidnappings and sexual violence.

Kenya has committed 1,000 police officers to the U.N.-approved mission, most of which is being financed by the United States.

"Kenya believes the responsibility of peace and security anywhere in the whole world, including Haiti, is the responsibility of all nations," Ruto told the news conference with Biden.

Two hundred Kenyan officers assigned to the mission were told they would fly out of Nairobi on Tuesday evening, the two sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

One source, a former police officer in contact with members of the mission, said the officers were given no explanation for the last-minute delay and were told to remain on standby.

The other source, who was briefed by a government official, said conditions were not in place in Port-au-Prince to receive the officers.

Kenya's government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Additional reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Alison Williams and Cynthia Osterman)