Haiti, trade top agenda as Kenya's Ruto makes historic state visit to US

Kenyan President William Ruto is this week making the first state visit to the US by an African leader in 15 years. The crisis in Haiti, where Kenya has pledged troops to quel gang violence, is topping the agenda – as are trade and security partnerships.

Ruto will meet US President Joe Biden in Washington on Thursday for talks that will largely focus on Kenya's plan to lead a UN-backed multinational mission to restore order in Haiti.

Nairobi has offered to send 1,000 military personnel. While several other countries have pledged forces, the US and other major nations have ruled out putting their own troops on the ground.

A first contingent of Kenyan police is expected to make the 12,000-kilometre journey to the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince this week – despite a fresh court challenge in Nairobi against the deployment.

Money for Haiti mission

Ruto has defended what he calls a "mission for humanity" in the western hemisphere's poorest nation, which has suffered from poverty, political instability and natural disasters for decades.

But a new lawsuit filed last week is seeking to hold Ruto's government in contempt for "blatantly" ignoring a January court order prohibiting the deployment as unconstitutional and illegal.

Funding could also prove a stumbling block for the mission.


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