Amid worsening economic situation and fuel shortages, violent anti-govt protests gripped country and left some 26 people dead. Opposition 7-17 Feb held mass “Operation Lockdown Haiti” demonstrations in capital Port-au-Prince and other cities, demanding President Moïse’s resignation; protests followed late-Jan court of auditors report alleging that former officials and senior ministers, including Moïse, had mismanaged and embezzled funds from PetroCaribe (alliance giving Caribbean states access to cheap Venezuelan oil). Police threw tear gas at crowds and clashed with demonstrators, while some protesters set fire to vehicles and looted stores; 78 prisoners escaped from jail in Aquin (south) 12 Feb, reportedly during protests in front of adjoining police station. In his first speech addressing protests, Moïse 14 February said he refused to resign and leave country in “hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers”, while PM Céant 16 Feb announced economic measures including cutting privileges for government officials. Gang and drug-trafficking related insecurity continued; police and U.S. drug agency 11 Feb arrested former police commissioner in Port-au-Prince on trafficking charges. Police 17 Feb announced they had arrested group of eight armed men, including five U.S. citizens, on “conspiracy” charges at checkpoint in Port-au-Prince.
Without an inclusive national pact on critical priorities, President Michel Martelly faces the spectre of a failed presidency, and Haiti risks international abandonment.
The UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) needs a gradual reconfiguration of its operations prior to a withdrawal, to avoid a security vacuum and give Haiti the chance for sustainable development.
A dysfunctional justice system continues to pose significant obstacles to the democratic process in a post-earthquake Haiti where security and stability remain fragile.
Kidnapping, urban gangs and unresolved killings form a trifecta of challenges to citizen safety that the four month-old Martelly administation must confront by speedily completing reforms to professionalise the Haitian National Police(HNP).
A year and a half after a deadly earthquake devastated its capital, 650,000 victims still wait for permanent housing in more than 1,000 unstable emergency camps across Haiti as a new hurricane season arrives.
Haitian authorities and the international community need to ensure that the first post-quake elections meet acceptable standards of credibility and produce the legitimate government needed to carry through massive institutional and infrastructure reconstruction.
Originally published in Huffington Post
Presentation by Mark L. Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group on “Is it time for MINUSTAH to leave Haiti?” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC, 25 July 2013.
Originally published in Reforma
Originally published in Miami Herald
Delayed elections, mistrust and public protests against Haitian President Michel Martelly threaten the country’s chance to end decades of political conflict and to recover from the 2010 earthquake. Without a national accord, the country risks ongoing crises. Javier Ciurlizza, Crisis Group Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, tells us more on the current challenges Haiti is facing.