Prime Minister Ariel Henry moved to name a new cabinet this week, following the September 11, 2021 political accord signed by his administration, together with members of the opposition during President Jovenel Moïse time, and civil society organizations. By and large, eight of the newly named Ministers to join the administration have been former ministers or former parliamentarians. Examples of these are Ricard Pierre, an influential member of the popular democratic sector, a staunch opponent of Jovenel Moïse and former senator from the Southeast has been named to the post of Minister of Planning and External Cooperation; while Alex Larsen, once a supporter turned opponent of Jovenel, was named to the post of Minister of Health, a position he once held under the administration of Réné Préval. He is the choice from the INITE political party. From the Fusion party, Rosemond Pradel was tapped to the post of Minister of Public Works, Transportation and Communication. Raymonde Rival, who is the newly appointed Minister of Youth and Sports came from the political formation, Ansanm nou fò, and was once a member of parliament, while Jean Victor Généus who replaces the former Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Henry Charles, was once a Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Haiti’s Ambassador to various countries. Others who have been appointed with prior experience in the various positions include Berto Dorcé and Nesmy Manigat, who are Ministers of Justice and Public Safety, and Education respectively. Nine other ministers who have occupied their portfolios since July 20th have retained their posts, with the interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry retaining the post of Minister of Culture and Communications until a suitable replacement is found.
No sooner had the new minister been named than the disagreement and dissatisfaction with the choice begin. Less than a day after their inauguration, dissidents are raising their voices in opposition to the Prime Minister’s choices. To former Senator Steven Benoit, this new cabinet and entire administration is the third iteration of the Parti haïtien Tèt Kale PHTK; it’s neither legitimate nor legal and as such, as a constitutive body, it does not inspire the glimmer of hope people expected. This is because, according to him, six (6) of the nine newly appointed ministers have been prominent figures who at one point or another have controlled public funds and yet have not submitted their asset declaration in this capacity over the years. The government is just a revised and improved version of the Martelly government, who remains the most enigmatic leader pulling the strings behind the curtains. The same regime is still in power. The Prime Minister was appointed by a president who had not been President of the Republic since February 2021, and the current Prime Minister Ariel Henry is part of the PHTK, expertly controlled by Michel Martelly. It is the same departmental delegates, the same vice-delegates, the same general managers who continue to plunder the meager resources of the State.
Also criticizing the government is Youri Latortue, General Coordinator of Ayiti an aksyon, (AAA), one of the most active opposition political parties, who complained that the current government has not brought anything new and innovative, or to put it mildly, doesn’t have anything new to offer. This is because the purpose of the transition was to pacify the country to establish a climate of security with a view to organizing elections, but this has yet to materialize. To him, the September 11 accord that’s being praised to be the source of the current cabinet reshuffling has not done much of anything, if only because the preceding government have not done much either that no other political actors have joined the accord. The cabinet reshuffling was not a consensus act by the government because there was no real change, as the same Minister of the Interior. Also, with the Prime Minister making such statements that “bandits have leaders” left the ex-elected representative of the Artibonite department in awe of the head of government’s ability to hold elections. “This statement by the Prime Minister clearly tells those who would like to participate in the elections not to venture down this path,” Others have also questioned the legitimacy and legality of the Prime Minister’s actions, noting that his government has actually come to an end on November 20, 2021, according to Article 149 of the Constitution.
Elsewhere, the security condition is still in a flux, with more kidnappings and extrajudicial killings across the nation, with the police unable to make any serious dent in what is becoming a worrying trend. Just in the past week, kidnappers abducted some 20 plus people, including prominent locals such as an ex-wife of former President René Préval, a French national, two journalists and four workers from the Barbancourt distillery. According to the center for analysis and research in human rights, CARDH, kidnappings have increased in the past few months, from 117 cases in September to 140 in October alone. According to Gédeon Jean, an attorney with the center, from January through October of this year, there have been at least 803 kidnappings in the country, including 54 foreign nationals, according to data compiled by the center.
Meanwhile, during the launch of a new committee Groupe de travail sur la sécurité (GTS), to look into the security problem facing the nation, the executive director of the human rights network, RNDDH, Pierre Espérance, denounces the trivialization of life by state authorities, who are alleged to be in collusion with the armed groups, thereby weakening state institutions. According to him, there have been no concrete measures by the state actors to strengthen public institutions and curb organized insecurity. It seems the kidnappers and criminal gangs have been operating freely without hindrance from any quarters whatsoever. With each promise of controlling the situation, there’s more violent attacks from the gangs. The kidnappers continue to strike. Just this Monday, the Director of the Coeur de Jesus school near Champ-de-Mars, Sony Guichard and his driver were kidnapped, not far from the school, in an area close to the National Palace, the main headquarters of the FAd ‘ H, the Court de Cassation, in Champ-de-Mars, places one would have thought heavily protected and secured by the state security forces. It is clear that the government is in over its head in dealing with the problems facing the nation.