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Haiti: Demonstrations against Jovenel intensies

Street demonstrations have been intensifying for the past week, therefore it appears that the government of President Jovenel Moïse cannot consider the possibility of running the country as such, the most prudent thing at this juncture is to devise a plan to get out of the crisis with minimal damage to both the nascent democracy and state institutions. Several writers have insisted on the need for the Moïse administration to consider handing over power. This past weekend several popular artists added their voice to the cause. Demonstrators, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, took to the streets in Port-au-Prince, Delmas and Petionville to denounce the government, at the call of such popular artists as Pierre Raymond Divert, known under the stage name King Kino, Ti Djo Zeny and Izolan. Speaking to the crowd, King Kino pointed out that they; the artists, have initiated the demonstration without financial help from any private sectors, and feels strongly that the current political system that favors the rich and powerful has equally alienated most of the poor. The economic and business elite have created a political system that is based on exclusion. With the schools, religious establishments, writers and artists staunchly opposed to his brand of governance, the president does not have any support among the people he is expected to lead. The most prudent thing is to change this system that produces leaders who do not defend the interests of the people they are supposed to rule. But Kino rejected rumors of his own candidacy in the coming elections.

The non-state actors’ council, Conseil haïtien des acteurs non étatiques (CONHANE), one of the 107 organizations collectively known as Passerelle, has indicated that the President has driven the country into the precipice of ungovernable tumult that, if it persists will result in a dire humanitarian crisis for the people. The organization says it is urgent to take into consideration the vital interests of the nation, now before things deteriorate further, exhorting the President to take heed to the recommendations made by various civil society groups. Another entity that is also working to make sure the imminent departure of the president is not as chaotic as possible is the transition facilitation committee, commission de facilitation de la transition, whose nine (9) members are also leaders of the consensual alternative for rebuilding Haiti, l’Alternative Consensuelle pour la Refondation d’Haïti. The goal for this group will be to designate a judge from the Supreme Court to serve as interim President during the transition period. Members of this groups are Ms. Antoinette Duclair, a member of the Petrochallengers; Antoine Augustin, a political militant and lecturer at a university; Michel Legros, an opposition leader who also represents the union of popular forces, l’Union des forces populaires; the writer, Gary Victor, who is representative of Réginald Boulos’ mouvement de la 3eme voie; Himmler Rébu, an Army Colonel who also served in the Martelly government; the imminent jurist, Gervais Charles, who also served in the previous government but joined the opposition under Moïse; Mad. Claire Lydie Parent, former mayor of Port-au-Prince; Father Gandois, who represents the progressive opposition forces, Forces de l’Opposition Progressiste (FOP); and former deputy Hugues Célestin, who also represent a party which is a member of the alternative opposition groups.

Elsewhere, the UN’s recent report on Haiti speaks of increasing insecurity and criminality in the country in recent months. More chilling is the increasing gang violence that is creating havoc in poor neighborhoods. There has been a 17percent increase in homicides, 698 deaths from January 1, 2019 through October 8, 2019, compared to 594 deaths in the same period last year, with two-thirds of these deaths occurring in the West department. By the same token, 34 police officers have been killed between January 1, 2019, through September 24, 2019, compared to 17 throughout the whole of 2018. This increasing criminality has rendered certain neighborhoods such as Martissant extremely dangerous, forcing residents to take to the streets to express their anger at the way the armed gangs have taken them hostage, with no action from the law enforcement authorities. The report also highlights the difficulties the police face in executing their duties. There are such problems as paying vendors for services rendered and also meeting the basic needs of the police whose operational capabilities are constrained and whose leadership is constrained to made difficult operational choices. Despite these operational constraints, the police were able to take on some of the organized gangs, for instance the arrest of the gang leader in July had increased the confidence in the police and forced the people to begin to have faith in their security forces, once again.

Finally, with the UN peace mission, MINUJUSTH’s mission coming to an end, the UN is compelled to start a new mission; October 16, 2019, known as the Bureau Intégré des Nations Unies en Haiti (BINUH). The mission of this new entity will be planning and operations, especially joint planning and operational mechanisms to ensure the integration of activities and coordination with the country team. The essential elements will be an integrated strategic framework and joint teams on electoral and judicial reforms, the fight against violence to people close to us, such as spouses and children, disarmament and gun buyback programs to be set up at common premises. The US diplomat, Helen Meagher La Lime has been selected to head this mission.

Dela Harlley

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