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16 Feb, 2024 10:01

Kenyan official found dead in Washington

Authorities in the US capital say an investigation is underway to determine the cause of Walter Nyamato’s death
Kenyan official found dead in Washington

A Kenyan police officer who was part of a team in Washington DC for talks on a planned security mission to Haiti has been found dead in a hotel room, authorities in the US capital have said.

Walter Nyamato, 39, was discovered unconscious in his lodging facility in downtown Washington on Tuesday morning and was pronounced dead at the scene, the metropolitan police said in a statement on Thursday, as cited by Reuters. An investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.

According to local media, Nyamato was among a group of high-ranking officials from Nairobi and Haiti meeting in the US to draft a memorandum of understanding and set a date for the deployment of the UN-approved security mission to the Caribbean nation.

Haiti, a nation of 11.4 million people, has seen an alarming surge in crime and unrest, including kidnappings, robberies, and murders, with armed gangs taking over some of its main ports and driving shortages in key goods. The island was heavily struck by an earthquake in 2010. 

According to the UN human rights office, more than 800 people were killed in gang-related violence in January alone, more than three times the number recorded during the same period last year.

Kenya’s pledge to contribute 1,000 police officers to the Haiti mission has been blocked by a court in the East African nation, which ruled it unconstitutional last month. Kenyan President William Ruto has insisted the plan will proceed regardless of the court’s decision.

The unelected government in Port-au-Prince first requested an “immediate” deployment of a specialized international armed force to quell deteriorating unrest a year after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in 2021.

While no date has been set for the Kenya-led mission, Haiti’s government announced on Wednesday that it is negotiating an official agreement with Nairobi to secure the deployment. Other countries are also expected to contribute personnel and resources. Washington has pledged $200 million for the project, despite some Haitians objecting to any Western troop involvement.