Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said immediate action is needed to address the security situation in Haiti, which is in the grip of an escalating constitutional crisis following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last year. .
Trudeau said additional aid for Haiti would be a central topic of discussion during a virtual meeting Friday that includes cabinet officials from Canada, the United States, France and other countries.
Haiti faced growing political instability and a climate of violence in neighborhoods dominated by criminal gangs after the murder of Moise on July 7, 2021, when armed men stormed his residence in the capital, Port- to the Prince.
At the start of Friday’s meeting, hosted by Canada, Trudeau said Haiti’s allies must act immediately to help tackle 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,” said the Canadian Prime Minister.
“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 has complicated a fragile political situation, 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.
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 plan is known as the “Montana Accord”, which enjoys the support of Haitian civil society leaders.
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.
But in July, the Core Group – a group of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the European Union and representatives of the United Nations and Organization of American States – spoke out in favor of Henry, urging him to form a government.
Many Haitian civil rights activists denounced the Core Group’s statement at the time, including journalist and activist Monique Clesca, who called it “interference.”
“Worse, it is being done while civil society and political parties are meeting to decide the way forward!” Clesca wrote on Twitter on July 17.
Haitian rights advocates and other civil society groups have called on the international community to allow Haitians to determine the way out of the ongoing crises facing their country, which has a long history of foreign intervention.
Ottawa said Friday’s meeting will also include representatives from the UN, the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States (OAS).
Meanwhile, Carriere, the Canadian ambassador, said security remained the main issue. “I see a population held hostage by insecurity,” he told the Associated Press news agency.
“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.
Henry has promised to hold elections this year, but no date has been set.
He 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 will 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.”