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Monday marked the 36th anniversary of the end of the Duvalier dictatorship, and a day, February 7, which has become the day on which new head of states are expected to be sworn in to take over the helms of the state. Except this year, things have not been looking good for so long that the expectation of a change of guard, or better yet an official celebration of sorts on the importance and relevance of the day in the annals of Haitian history was conspicuously absent. The situation in the country is in such a flux that no one knew how and what to expect, so people stayed away from the public square. Schools were closed, public transportation came to a halt and banks and other businesses largely kept their doors closed. More surprising was that there were no protests or demonstrations planned by any groups, except that most politicians took advantage of the symbolism of the day to make political statements that one way or another reflects the condition in which the state is at the moment. Addressing the nation on this momentous occasion, Prime Minister Ariel Henry once again extended an invitation to the signatories to the Montana accord to join him in moving the nation forward. He lamented that all the other accords and meetings on the fate of the nation are just distractions since his office is willing to bring all factions together to find common ground in addressing the nation’s problems. The prime minister used the address to speak directly to those he considers his detractors, including those who made an attempt on his life in Gonaïves on January 1, 2022. He dared those he considers terrorists and armed gangs and bandits that they will be treated as terrorists and bandits because the justice system, with the help of international actors are beginning to identify who these criminals are and that it is only a matter of time before they are brought to justice. Mr. Henry further stated that he does not want to hear anyone say they are victims of political persecution or that they are political prisoners, when caught engaging in terrorist and criminal activities.

For his part, the Senate president, Joseph Lambert lamented that the current Prime Minister, despite all legalities has yet to define his mandate, seven months into his rule, and has not even used his power to improve daily living conditions for much of the populace. A state without authority that cannot address the security issues facing the people is unfit to organize free and fair elections. Mr. Lambert went on to note that in a state faced with the accelerated deterioration of political life, the de facto Government no longer has much to say about the worsening problems which affect the people in their daily lives.  Consultation and consensus are essential for the political actors who, in a burst of lucidity, must understand that any sectarian initiative is doomed to failure, which will inevitably lead to the collapse of the country. The compromise this time must prevail over the repeated pettiness that has already given the results that the Haitian people are undergoing at present. Mr. Lambert said that he plans to organize a large meeting this weekend to bring together the different sectors of the society, hoping that the Prime Minister, who will be officially invited, will attend. In an address to the nation last weekend, the president elected under the Montana accord, Fritz Alphonse Jean, called for a national consensus for the restoration of security and the organization of elections. He recalled that the members of the Montana agreement had already invited the Prime Minister to a meeting last week to resume the dialogue, but according to Leslie Voltaire, a member of the Montana Accord Monitoring Office, Prime Minister Ariel Henry never responded to this invitation.

Elsewhere, the MTV Ayiti party, which signed the September 11 accord (the PM’s own accord) is pleading for a large consensus to move the country out of the crises. In a press release made public on Sunday, February 6, 2022, the group reiterated its commitment to the accord but stated that the initiative is not sufficient to address the concerns of the nation. While assuring that they will not be a part of any group trying to derail any consensus being made, they call on the Prime Minister and his accord group to engage members of the Montana accord. The note went on to say that any consensus must necessarily include a rigorous roadmap that includes the rapid restoration of security, as cases of kidnapping increase and the population faces an unacceptable wave of violence in the midst of a deteriorating economic climate. In the light of all these, the political, economic and social leaders of the country must put all personal interests and group ambitions aside to provide the country with a direction that takes into account exclusively the pressing needs of the Haitian people and that leads us in due time to elections, the only way to restore legitimacy and constitutional legality.

While on the topic of security, a dozen people were killed and more than 20 kidnapped this past weekend. A 40-year-old police officer Andrécite Jeudi, and a driver, Paul Eugène were mortally wounded when they were found in Bourdon this past Saturday evening aboard a black Suzuki Vitara riddled with bullets by armed men wearing uniform of the law enforcement unit, l’Unité départementale de maintien de l’ordre (UDMO). According to witnesses, the perpetrators were men in two different Toyota Land Cruisers. Between Saturday and Sunday, there were 4 bodies found riddled with bullets. Other communities across the capital city have been victims to these senseless killings too.  Besides the killings in Bourdon, the area was also the center of kidnappings in the past weekend. A pickup truck and a VW Amarok were found without any passengers aboard leading officials to conclude that the occupants may have been kidnapped while, Caelle Edmond, a presenter at radio Caraibe was kidnapped Saturday night while Pastor Rémy Lochard, a popular gospel singer was kidnapped Sunday morning in Tabarre, while on his way to church. In Croix-des-Bouquets, where the notorious 400 Mawozo gang roams, the 86-year-old Dean of the l’université de Port-au-Prince, Gérard Dorcely, was kidnapped along with his driver while a bus belonging to the Sans Souci bus company, with 20 passengers aboard were detained by the gang.

Dela Harlley

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