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The political circus of getting the country back on track after so many crises continue unabated with yet another meeting and election by the national transitional council, le Conseil national de transition (CNT) put in place by the signatories to the Montana accords. At a meeting at the Kinam Hotel this past Sunday, the group elected the former governor of the central bank, BNH, Fritz Alphonse Jean as President and former senator Steven Benoît as Prime Minister to head a transitional government that the group anticipates will govern for the next two years, culminating in free and fair elections. The election took place in the presence of 42 of the 44 delegates from organizations and institutions from social as well as political sectors who constitute the national transitional council. The only abstentions were the two delegates from the Fanmi Lavalas, who decided to abstain the day before the election. The votes were manually cast during the first round and then by voice during the second round. The former banker received 15 votes while him main rival, former senator Edgard Leblanc Fils received 15 votes. For Prime Minister, Steven Benoit received 21 votes while his rivals, Jean Hénold Buteau received 17 votes, Bonivert Claude and one for Iswick Théophin.

Speaking on the radio Magik9, one of the members of the Montana accord monitoring group, Jacques Ted Saint-Dic said that after the election of the transition President and Prime Minister, the national memorandum of understanding, Protocole d’entente nationale, PEN, will nominate a second member to the five-member presidential council. The group will equally send a letter to interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry, asking him to nominate a member from the signatories to this accord, and other civil society organizations will nominate the other two members to form the presidential council. After this, the group will proceed to swear in a president and prime minister as part of the transitional government, with or without the current Prime Minister’s accord, and if he refuses to vacate the office, the Haitian people will decide. Accordingly, all the actions taken by PM Ariel Henry are not within a consensual framework, stressing that the Montana accord remains open to anyone willing to commit to changing the country. This is interesting because the current prime minister has stated last week that the next President occupying the National Palace will have to be democratically elected by the people, a way of reminding signatories to the various accords that are calling for a transitional government with a president and prime minister to note that there will not be a head of state during the transition period. Ariel Henry is gambling on the fact that he feels almost certain that by February 7, there would be a constituent assembly and CEP in place. Speaking to the Senate on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said that he is certain that before summer, there will be a new constitution that will allow for the organization of elections to elect leaders to steer the affairs of the state. Once the constituent assembly is set up, elections must be held within three (3) months to adopt or reject the new constitution proposed by the constituent assembly.

Meanwhile, former ministers under President Jovenel Moïse published a proposal that they feel will get the country out of the crisis. With specifics on how to address the issues facing the nation, they equally called for the removal of interim PM Henry on February 7, 2022. In their estimation, the Henry administration has failed since the security situation in the country has not improved under his administration and the investigation into the assassination is at an impasse. After explaining their proposals in detail, the former ministers call for the continuation of infrastructure projects that their former boss has started, especially in energy production and road networks.

Elsewhere, the security situation is still a problem for the national police, who are increasingly being overrun by criminal gangs. Two police buildings and the offices of radio télé Zénith have become the latest casualties of a gang war that has kept the nation on edge for quite some time. Heavily armed gangs attacked the police station in Bon Repos, killing officer Joseph Dioc Blada and wounding another; Dhmy Sauveur, according to reports from the PNH spokesperson Garry Desrosiers. The second police station attacked was in Cesselesse. According to the police, these attacks were in retaliation to the various operations undertaken in recent days against the gangs operating in neighborhoods in the commune of Croix-des-Bouquets. Several members of these criminal networks were arrested while others were fatally injured in clashes with law enforcement. While presenting condolences to the family and coworkers of Joseph Dioc Blada killed in the line of duty, police commissioner, Frantz Elbé promises to continue to work in close collaboration with members of the high command to identify and apprehend all those who participated in this offensive against PNH personnel and facilities. Police interventions will continue to track down all criminals who want to make the town of Croix-des-Bouquets a den of bandits. The former mayor of Croix-des-Bouquets, Rony Colin, who is the managing director of the radio station, radio télé Zénith also denounced the attack on his facility which is located near the Bon Repos police station. While also presenting condolences to the family of the slain police officer, the Manager denounced the actions of the gangs and defied them, saying that his radio station will not be silenced. Images circulating on social media show the many bullet holes in front of the radio station. Ombudsman, Renand Hédouville also condemned the criminal activities, noting that since the beginning of the year, police and the press are increasingly targeted by criminal gangs who are operating recklessly as outlaws, with little intervention from the government. Mr. Hédouville called on the government to take up its responsibility to protect vulnerable people. The police spokesperson also announced the death of the divisional inspector of police, Jean Nickson Saverdieu, who was the head of UDMO operations in the West. Mr. Saverdieu was shot and killed in Poste-Marchand last Saturday while in his car. He was considered one of the exemplary police officers, very punctual and disciplined.

Finally, at least 2,578 homes were flooded and three destroyed after heavy rainfall lasting nearly 36 hours in Haiti’s Northern, Northeastern and Nippes Departments. More than 2,500 families were forced to evacuate their homes in about 20 communes. Among the communes partially flooded are Cap-Haïtien, Haiti’s second largest city, Ouanaminthe, Fort-Liberté and Trou-du-Nord in the north, and Anse-à-Veau and Baradères in the Nippes Department, according to the Ministry of interior.

Dela Harlley

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