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Haiti’s newsreel: Fading hopes

It seems the perennial crisis in the country has started to be a concern for world leaders, who have expressed their exasperation at the Moïse governments’ lack of direction and control over the spiraling social, economic, and political turmoil. At a recent UN Security council meeting, France, the United States and Canada expressed their concerns over the trend of recent events in the country. In an unprecedented move, the Security Council gave President Jovenel Moïse a rare 27 minutes to address the august body, instead of the regular 15 minutes generally accorded to speakers.  During his address, President Moïse again repeated his often-told story about the “powerful oligarchs” and “radical opposition” that are the source of what ails the nation. While all legal institutions in the nation have agreed that his term in office is legally over, Mr. Moïse contends that his term will end on February 7, 2022. The President stated that democracy is fine in Haiti and his government has faced seven (7) violent attempts to disrupt his mandate and overthrow the constitutional order while his administration is working tirelessly to ameliorate the socio-political climate.

If the president is convinced of his efforts and democratic bona fides, the international community as well as the opposition remains unmoved following his pronouncements to the Security Council.  Various world leaders have called the deteriorating state of affairs under his leadership both shocking and worrisome. President Moïse stated that his government is making inroads into addressing the security issue in the country by noting that the number of kidnappings has dropped significantly because of his administration’s aggressive dismantling of 64 out 102 existing gangs. However, there has been an increase in crime that has prompted protests across the nation which in turn are severely repressed by the police, who so not spare even journalists covering the protest marches, many of whom have been wounded in recent days by bullets or tear gas used by police. The government’s explanation to the crackdown by its security forces is that many people disguise themselves as journalists and stage attacks against the police. This assertion drew the concern from the US Ambassador Jeffrey De Laurentis, who retorted that gang violence in the nation has increased more than 200% in 2020 and added that the president’s politics of ruling by decree is contributing to the dysfunction of the system over the past years. Ambassador De Laurentis stated that the United States wants the president to put an end to police abusive tactics and to work towards parliamentary and presidential elections to ensure the reestablishment of the constitutional role of the legislature that has been crippled for more than a year now.

For their part, the French government also expressed their concerns as well as representative, Ambassador Nathalie Briadhurst asked the president to address the issue of the gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, who has been cited in national and international reports and accused of numerous massacres yet remains free.Ms Briadhurst went on to question the reason why the architects of the massacres in La Saline and Bel Air, as well as the investigation into the kidnapping and assassination of the former president of the Haitian Bar Association, Judge Monferrier Dorval are not moving forward as they should.  Furthermore, other decisions taken by the president are disturbing for the French, such as the decree to create the national intelligence agency, the decree that expands the charge and definition of terrorism or the one which led to the dismissal of three judges, who were otherwise tenured for life, according to the constitution.

A collection of political parties under the umbrella of the la Direction politique de l’opposition démocratique (Dirpod) have argued that transitional government is inevitable in Haiti in light of the complexity of the political and constitutional crises crippling the country. In a letter addressed to the UN Security Council, the group opposed the constitutional referendum imposed de facto by the current government. They also pointed out that they will not participate in any pseudo parliamentary, presidential or general elections under the banner of the current government with the current composition of the electoral commission. The group is calling for a continuous protest marches against the prolongation of the current regime beyond February 7, 2021.

Dela Harlley

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