Koome picks new commander to lead Haiti police mission

Godfrey Otunge will lead the team of more than 2,500 police officers

In Summary
  • Deputy Inspector General APS, Noor Gabow, will now take the coordination role from Nairobi
  • Koome also appointed General Service Unit’s head of operations, Commissioner Stephen Chebet
Senior Assistant IG Godfrey Otunge
Senior Assistant IG Godfrey Otunge

Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome has appointed a new commander to lead officers deployed in the Haiti operation.

Head of operations at the Administration Police Service and Senior Assistant Inspector General of Police, Godfrey Otunge, will lead the team of more than 2,500 police officers. 

Otunge will replace his boss, Deputy Inspector General APS, Noor Gabow, who will now take the coordination role from Nairobi.

Gabow will coordinate the training and capacity building of the troops, as well as those in the Haiti National Police.

The DIG led a reconnaissance team to Haiti and reported that the local police needed urgent retraining. He has steered the process for a year now and made sure the deployment team is ready. 

“As a DIG, he will fly with the first team and oversee the deployment before he comes back and goes on with his coordination roles.

"He will liaise with other countries in the role and communicate with Haiti,” said an official aware of the plans.

Koome also appointed General Service Unit’s head of operations, Commissioner Stephen Chebet, who joins the team in the same capacity.

The two are well trained and experienced to lead the mission, officials said.

President William Ruto is expected to flag off the first team on Monday at the AP Campus in Embakasi.

The team of about 400 officers has been cleared to depart Nairobi anytime, officials said.

More than 1,000 police officers will join other teams being deployed to fight gangs terrorising locals in the Caribbean country. 

Apart from Kenya, other countries that will send officers to Haiti are Chile, Jamaica, Grenada, Paraguay, Burundi, Chad, Nigeria and Mauritius.

This came as Haiti’s new government announced the appointment of Rameau Normil, a police divisional commissioner, as director general of the Haitian National Police (PNH). 

The decree officialising Normil’s appointment was signed by the Transitional Presidential Council members and Prime Minister Garry Conille, following a council of ministers meeting at the Villa d’Accueil on June 19.

He was sworn to office on Friday June 21. This is Normil’s second tenure as head of the institution.

He was previously appointed in 2019, during President Jovenel Moise and Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe's government. 

During his first stint as PNH’s director general, Normil was accused of laxity in the face of increasing gang violence in Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas.

Jouthe publicly criticised Normil, calling for his resignation due to his inability to ensure the people's security.

He was dismissed in November 2020 for lack of results. 

Normil's replacement, Léon Charles, also faced backlash and was succeeded by Frantz Elbé, shortly after Moise’s assassination in 2021.

Elbé's tenure has been widely criticised for failing to curb the rampant gang violence that has gripped the nation.

Normil's re-entry to the helm of the PNH comes amid increased pressure urging Prime Minister Conille to strengthen the police.

Local media report that Normil has an extensive understanding of Haiti’s police institution. He has held several key positions within the institution and studied military infantry in Chile in 1999. 

Before his appointment, Normil oversaw the Office of Financial and Economic Affairs (BAFE) before serving as director general of the Central Directorate of Judicial Police (DCPJ) from 2012 to 2018.

The law enforcement institution has been underfunded and ill-equipped, rendering it ineffective against well-organised and powerful gangs.

The police force was unable to celebrate its 29th anniversary on June 12 due to the assassination of three agents from the Temporary Anti-Gang Unit, by Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier’s Viv Ansanm gang coalition.

Last week, a team of Haitian police commanders visited Nairobi ahead of the planned deployment.

They held a series of meetings, including one with Koome and his team, in which they asked for help to stabilise their country.

Anticipation in Haiti is high that the arrival of foreign forces will help loosen the tight grip of armed gangs that have forced shortages in medications and food. 


WATCH: The latest videos from the Star