Haiti’s new police chief promises immediate anti-gang action
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Haiti’s new police chief promises immediate anti-gang action

Haiti’s new police chief promises immediate anti-gang action

Haiti’s new police chief promises immediate anti-gang action

PORT-AU-PRINCE, July 9, 2024 (BSS/AFP) – Haitian police will soon begin operations against powerful gangs terrorizing the country, newly appointed chief Rameau Normil, accompanied by the commander of the Kenyan contingent sent to provide assistance, announced on Monday.

“One day, people will wake up and see that the bandits have been detained by the police,” Normil told a news conference, his first public appearance since taking office on June 21.

He was joined by Godfrey Otunge, commander of the Kenyan contingent – ​​the first person ever sent as part of the UN-authorised international security force.

“For strategic reasons, we will not say how we will proceed,” Normil said.

For years, Haiti has been at the mercy of well-armed gangs that now control 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as the main roads in the poor Caribbean country.

Conditions deteriorated rapidly in late February when armed groups launched coordinated attacks in Port-au-Prince, saying they wanted to overthrow then-Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Eventually he agreed to step down and hand over executive power to a transitional council, which appointed an interim prime minister and government.

The UN Security Council approved the creation of a Kenya-led international security force last year, but work was delayed for months by court challenges in Nairobi and then the political turmoil surrounding Henry’s resignation.

The first 200-strong contingent of forces arrived on June 25.

Normil said Haitian officials and the Kenyan team are consulting on how to address the gang violence.

Otunge said he is optimistic about the task ahead.

“We have a task that we have undertaken and we must do it to the best of our ability,” he said.

“The task is to ensure that peace is restored throughout Haiti,” Otunge said, adding that “they intend to achieve this by working closely with the Haitian authorities and local and international partners who are committed to a new Haiti.”

He would not say when the next contingent of Kenyan soldiers would arrive in Haiti.

As an AFP reporter noted, military transport planes carrying armored vehicles landed in Port-au-Prince this weekend.