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Monday marked the beginning of the new legislative session and keeping with tradition, the outgoing Senate President, Joseph Lambert, who presides over a Senate, composed of 10 members f (10 senators out of 30) took it upon himself to open the legislative year in the presence of seven of the ten senators. In an address to the nation, the senator promised to continue to lead the senate despite his expiring term, without elections nor new legislators to take over the parliamentary process. According to Mr. Lambert, the country has been going through a rough descent for the past two years, with all state institutions practically paralyzed and weakened, culminating with the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Stating that the country is in a vacuum, with no constituted power, leading to everything being illegal and chaotic Mr. Lambert further went on to stress that the country’s calculated banditry has reigned for three years unchecked, especially in the outskirts of the capital where gangs have set shop in such areas as Martissant, crippling up to four (4) departments. These are signs that the nation is in decline, with serious consequences for the national economy, already threading thin, and people are left to pay the price by either collecting the corpse of their loved ones strewn on the streets or forced to pay ransom for their kidnapped loved ones. Mr. Lambert recognizes the need to have a serious and hearty talk with the people about the real situation in the country. Accordingly, the country is falling apart, there’s bad governance, poverty, and misery; opulence and corruption; and certainly impunity.  We have a duty to act now, together, quickly and well.  He called the year 2022 the “year of the Haitian dialogue”. Elections were supposed to be held last year to elect new parliamentarians but disagreements and questions on the legality of the provisional electoral commission, CEP, led to the suspension of the elections. When Ariel Henry took over following Moïse’s assassination, he promised quick elections, but this dream would later be shattered by the earthquake in August.

Meanwhile an article that appeared in the New York Times on Monday, pointed to possible links between Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the presumed assassins of President Jovenel Moïse. The article stated that the Prime Minister had close links to Joseph Félix Badio, a former employee of the Justice Ministry, who is one of the suspects wanted in the assassination of the president. The New York Times article is based on interviews with one of the suspects in the assassination, Rodolphe Jaar, a businessman and former drug trafficker who confessed to financing the assassination of the president. According to Jaar, both Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Joseph Félix Badio were in contact before and after the assassination. According to phone records, and conversations with Haitian authorities, the main suspect, Jaar revealed information that could be damaging to the Prime Minister. Jaar stated that Mr. Badio spoke with PM. Henry both before and after the assassination for about 7 minutes and that when Mr. Badio was being sought by the police, he went to Henry’s official residence twice in the night and could enter without being stopped by the security forces, despite knowledge of his being a wanted man. Though a spokesperson for the Prime Minister denied the relationship, Jaar went on to point out that just before the assassination, Mr. Badio made it known that Henry is a close ally once the government is changed, and that the PM is a good friend, and they have total control over him. Jaar went on to say that after the assassination, he and Mr. Badio remained in contact, while evading the authorities and have even shared a safe house together while on the lam.

Elsewhere, the US under-Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian A. Nichols and the US chargé d’affaires, Kenneth H. Merten indicated that they meet with representatives of the Montana accord and asked them to have serious discussions with Prime Minister Ariel Henry and other key stakeholders to find a solution leading for free and equitable elections. In the meantime, it’s a question of the dialogue proposed by different diasporean groups to hold a “Haiti Unity Summit” in Louisiana, United States. The organizers formed under the umbrella of the Diaspora interest group, Groupe d’intérêt de la diaspora haïtienne, comprising of such organizations as La Fédération de la diaspora haïtienne (HDF), l’Association médicale haïtienne (AMHE) and le Comité d’action politique de la diaspora haïtienne (HDPAC) and its affiliated partner in Haïti GIPHADREC. The conference is expected to take place at Southern University Law Center, Nelson Mandela Center for Public Policy, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana from January 13th through the 19th. The aim is to provide a platform for the different political factions and civil society organizations in Haiti to negotiate a permanent solution to the crises facing the nation. The monitoring group of the Montana accord however declined the invitation to attend the conference.

Finally, the security situation has deteriorated to the point that instead of risking their lives to cross Martissant, most students are forced to sleep in classrooms in order not to abandon their studies or worse, fall victim to the gangs that have been controlling areas in the capital. Just this Saturday, armed gangs killed former police commissioner Jean Coles Rameau, his garde du corps and a lady nearby, but his driver was seriously wounded and taken to the hospital. The assassination took place near avenue Magloire Ambrose, not far from the Salomon market. Images of the bullet ridden car in which the former police commissioner was riding was widely circulated on social media. Rameau was one of 4 former police officers found guilty of the cold-blooded assassination of 11 youth in Carrefour Feuilles on May 28, 1999. They were fined 400million gourdes as damages to the families.

Dela Harlley

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