‘Immediate action’ needed on Haiti security: Trudeau | Political news
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said immediate action is needed to address the security situation in Haiti and that additional aid is a central topic of a virtual meeting on Friday that includes cabinet officials from Canada, the United States. States, France and other countries.
Trudeau spoke at the start of the meeting hosted by Canada, which is home to 165,000 people of Haitian descent. There is a deepening constitutional crisis in Haiti following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, as well as a climate of violence in neighborhoods dominated by criminal gangs.
Trudeau said Haiti’s allies must act immediately to help combat a spike in violence that is worsening an already precarious humanitarian situation.
“In order to meet Haiti’s humanitarian needs, we must also deal with the difficult security situation. The increase in violence only worsens the already precarious humanitarian situation,” Trudeau said.
“This will require immediate action to mitigate the violence…we also need to address the deep governance issues that are fueling the current political and security crisis. This includes taking action against corruption.
The meeting comes as Haiti faces multi-pronged crises with economic, humanitarian and security aspects and a looming deadline for leadership. Moise’s murder last year complicated an already fragile political situation in Haiti, accumulating more uncertainty in a nation already struggling with widespread poverty and natural disasters.
Moise had been in power by decree for more than a year, since January 2020, and his opponents have said his presidency is set to end in February 2021.
He had controversially claimed that his term would end on February 7, 2022. Two days before his death, he had named Ariel Henry as the next prime minister. Henry is now in an interim position and many observers believe his term should also end on February 7.
Moise was assassinated in his residence in Port-au-Prince by a group of armed men. The group implicated in the murder allegedly included 20 Colombian citizens and several Haitian-American dual nationals, according to the US Department of Justice. More than 40 people have been arrested so far in Haiti, the United States and Jamaica in connection with the murder. On Thursday, the United States indicted a second man for his alleged involvement in the assassination. The first US charge came earlier this month.
The gangs have expanded their control of territory in Haiti since the assassination. A coalition of gangs in October created a nationwide fuel shortage by blocking access to storage terminals, and kidnappings are commonplace.
Meanwhile, Canada considers elections inevitable in Haiti given the institutional collapse, but no date has yet been set.
To make matters worse, Haiti’s legislative and judicial branches are also facing crises of legitimacy, as is the executive branch.
Many parts of Haitian civil society are calling for “agreements” that would allow for consensual leadership of the country while waiting to renew its institutions through elections – although various factions differ on what the agreement should contain.
Henry himself claims to have spearheaded such an agreement, called the “9/11 deal”. Competing agreements have also been developed in recent months. The main rival to Henry’s Accord is known as the “Montana Accord”.
With a confrontation looming between the Henry government and parts of civil society, Canada’s Ambassador to Haiti, Sébastien Carrière, said Canada would not take sides.
Canada wants a deal to be done preferably before Feb. 7. Henry’s fragile legitimacy risks being challenged even more after this date.
Citing United Nations figures, Carriere said “4.6 million Haitians live in a state of humanitarian emergency.”
For him, safety remains the main issue. “I see a population held hostage by insecurity,” he told The Associated Press.
“Canada believes that security must be restored before an election is held… In the current context, it would be very difficult to have an election, especially with competing political agreements,” he said.
Ottawa says the meeting will also include representatives from the UN, the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States.
Henry tweeted on Friday that he wanted democratic institutions to return to normal functioning and hand over power to elected officials as soon as possible, adding that the transitional bodies would be officially installed in the coming days, including the provisional electoral council.
He also acknowledged the dire situation in Haiti.
“There is an urgent need to address these issues and find lasting solutions,” he wrote. “I am convinced that the root cause of such a situation lies mainly in the abject poverty in which a significant part of our population lives.”