For a brief moment, there was an anticipated hope that things might begin to thaw between the radical opposition and the government as representatives from different political persuasions and the government participated in a two-day political conference organized by the patriotic initiative committee, Comité Haitien d’Initiative Patriotique (CHIP), with the goal of holding preliminary talks leading to coming to an agreement on how to get the nation out of the current crisis. This conference had high hopes as the organizers have the accord of most of the parties involved in the political impasse, including two representatives who were also signatories to the Marriott Accord, leaders of the Democratic bloc, which is considered the extreme opposition, Dario Syriack of Mache Kontré, signatories of the Kinam accord, representatives of non-aligned parties such as Eric Jean Baptiste’s Rassemblement des Démocrates Nationaux Progressistes (RDNP) and Joseph Lambert. Other representatives include the international community, the Bishops’ Conference and the Protestants Federation as well as representatives from the ruling government.
But the much anticipation that this last attempt at salvaging what has been an uncontrolled and chaotic crisis was dealt a huge blow when the participants walked out of the conference without an agreement, having failed to reach a consensus on the key issues to address, in effect without anything to offer the people who have been waiting to hear something positive. If the conference is considered a failure, this sentiment is not shared by the representatives of the government who considered the fact that there was a conference that brought together most protagonists of the current crisis, around one table to discuss, share ideas, interests and demands to find a solution that will move the country out of the impasse, is already a step in the right direction. Jude Charles Faustin, the government’s spokesperson, speaking after the conference, disagreed with the allegation that it was the representatives who were signatories to the Kinam accord who derailed the current conference. According to him, representatives from the current government and their allies are resolute in their position; to be able to carry out far reaching reforms in the country. While there was consensus around the question of reduction of the mandate, the main issue that cased the collapse of the talks was the deadline for the implementation of the roadmap from the discussions. Mr. Faustin explained how they discussed several issues including drafting of a new constitution to be adopted by the people through a referendum, a point on which both groups agreed upon. He said that when the President decided to pay a courtesy brief visit to the conference, clearly stated that he is not beholden to the mandate but rather interested in reforms and expects a rather realistic roadmap for strict implementation from a realistic agenda. He then blames the opposition for taking hard-line positions that are not realistic.
Meanwhile, according to Rosemond Pradel, speaking for the Alternative Consensuelle, the President and his allies are not sincere in their negotiation, and feels that they purposely derailed the dialogue. He warns that politically speaking, there’s no problem if President Jovenel Moïse wants to stay in power to carry out the remaining two years of his five-year term, but he must be ready to face the consequences of what is likely to come; the country will sink further into chaos. He hopes that the current failure of talks is just temporary, because as part of a group, he feels it is important for their bloc to remain open to all options, by undertaking mobilization and negotiations simultaneously. Dario Syriak though painted a different picture of the events, alleging that the President himself is the problem. According to the representative of Mache kontre, and OPL, everything was going rather smoothly the first two days, with the opposition ready to make concessions to work towards a solution to the crisis, while they (the opposition) are aware that the Port-au-Prince Consensus cannot fully be implemented, but the government does not show any inclination to make concessions to address what the people actually are calling for. According to him, neither the President nor his close allies are aware that there’s a major crisis that requires urgent resolution. On the contrary, they continue to obstruct all steps, and at this point, it is time for the President to know that he is the problem and we hope they will make the necessary concessions.
In other news, the outgoing Minister of Education, Pierre Josué Agénor Cadet, signed an accord with the State University of Haiti, l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti (UEH), meant to foster collaboration, training, research and sharing of education material between the institute of higher learning and the Ministry of Education. The accord will allow 25 students who received their Bac, to be automatically admitted to the university without taking any other entrance exam as has been the case. The accord is a five-year engagement that is renewable unless one of the parties decides otherwise. It is meant to prepare students for higher learning as they take part in internships on campus and thereby ready for higher learning, reducing the dropout rate. The accord also allows for continuous teacher training and professional development of teachers, practical training for students and the development and implementation of research programs and projects. But a letter signed by the Board of Directors of the University of Haiti, UEH, the financial status of the Chancellor’s office, the professors and students are precarious because the state has not honored its promise made during an earlier accord on May 17, 201s in which the state was expected to provide financial assistance for the implementation of the school’s Strategic Plan.
Finally, the police have confirmed 15 kidnappings during the first 22 days of this year, a clear signal that the security situation is still problematic. There were eight (8) cases recorded in downtown Port-au-Prince, four (4) in Delmas, and one each at Léogâne, Clercine and Croix-des-Bouquets. One of the victims has been the businessman Clifford Dubois, whose body was found on Friday, January 17, 2020 at Arcachon 32, two days after he was kidnapped by armed bandits. The police have agreed that there’s been an uptick in kidnappings in recent days they assure the public that they are doing the best to control the situation. A training exercise in the heart of downtown Port-au-Prince created panic when the police were actively practicing neutralizing kidnappings and people in the area mistook the exercise for an actual gunfight, creating panic and stampede as people try to take to the nearest exit out of downtown. During the same period that the police looked at, there were more than 30 arrests, the seizure of 40 firearms, and as part of an operation called operation “toile d’araignée,” where 261 cars with tinted windows were changed back to normal windows, 125 cars without license plates were counted, 51 motorbikes with only 8 that have been registered. Finally, 12 people have been arrested for drug trafficking in Saint Louis.