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After a brief pause halted the deployment of Kenyan police forces to aid the PNH in rooting out the gangs that have been the bane of existence for the entire population recently, new development shows signs that the Kenyan legislature is moving to approve the move. While the cabinet voted to authorize the deployment last week, the opposition went to court because the government of William Ruto has overlooked parliament in making the unilateral decision to authorize the deployment, which the courts subsequently rejected. But with the optimism expressed by Vice President Rigathi Gachagua, there’s a push for financing from the international community because the Kenyan economy cannot afford the mission alone. But with that said, he affirms that the Security Council’s approval of the mission is a testament to the professionalism and expertise of the Kenyan police force. According to the Vice President, the international community must ensure that the deployed officers and the peace mission receive the financial assistance necessary for the mission’s success.

CARICOM envoys trying to forge a consensus in the crisis agreed to reinitiate discussions that could lead to negotiations between October 29th and November 6th. The group known officially as the Group of Eminent Personalities (GPE), designated as mediators in the crisis, sent a note to representatives of the December 21 accord and the Kingston declaration about their intention to hold in-person meetings where their proposal and that of the GPE are being put forth for discussion. Three (3) documents from each group are being put forth for discussion, of which there are both points of convergence and points of divergence. The mediators asked the stakeholders to prepare a memorandum detailing the terms of a consensus project, considering the substantive points they’ve all proposed, by October 25, 2023. Since June, the mediators have tried unsuccessfully to get consensus among the different groups, but they’ve met more failures than successes. The first attempt was in Kingston, Jamaica, where groups affiliated with the current interim PM Ariel Henry and the December 21st accord agreed on one thing, and a coalition of opposition parties grouped within the Joint Kingston Declaration on the other. After Jamaica, talks resumed in Port-au-Prince on July 12th through 15th and from September 4th through the 10th. Meanwhile, between July and August, there have been informal discussions at the Apostolic nunciature between the PM and the opposition parties, but those efforts also failed.

Critics decry the mediators’ methodology and the political actors’ intransigence. According to the Executive Director of the human rights group RNDDH, Pierre Espérance, who attended some of the meetings, the mediators have demonstrated that they are motivated by good intentions to help find a solution to the nation’s multifaceted problems, but their method failed them. For example, Mr. Espérance argued that discussions in Haiti should have been based on what was discussed in Kingston, but there’s a feeling that the mediators are just going around in circles. While they disagreed on an agenda discussion, the mediators lacked conflict resolution expertise. Pierre Espérance attributed the failure of the discussions to the “intransigence” of PM Ariel Henry, who is unwilling to make any concessions in the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the Northeast Department’s Director for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Lesly Théogène stated that the market in the border town of Ouanaminthe used by both countries will remain closed until further notice. According to the Minister, the decision was made at the highest level of government, and this closure allowed the Haitian government to establish new rules and alter the way exchanges were conducted in the past. The government is mulling opening the market with other countries if the Dominican Republic is unwilling to trade with them. Mr. Théogène also noted that Dominicans highly value Haitian products because they are organic, but he also pointed out that the Dominican state is implementing measures to devalue Haitian products, promising that steps will be taken in Haiti to promote local consumption. Also, customs officers stationed at the Ouanaminthe customs seized and burned several products from the Dominican Republic on Monday, October 16, 2023. Haitian officials have decided that Dominican products of poor quality will be seized and burned.

Finally, on the 217th anniversary of the assassination of the nation’s founder, Jean Jacques Dessalines, former President Jocelerme Privert spoke about the multifaceted crisis facing the country, the dispute between the country and its neighbor and the UN Resolution 2699 and the possible organization of elections among other topics. He acknowledged the precarious living condition of the millions of Haitians and called for a patriotic awakening to pull the country out of the chaos. According to him, the primary victims of this deterioration in living conditions, politically, economically, socially, environmentally, and in terms of security, are our compatriots, brave sisters, and brothers living in the popular neighborhoods of the capital and our provincial cities.

The UNESCO representative in Haiti, Tatiana Villegas Zamora, advocated for journalists’ safety during a visit to one of the leading newspapers in the country, le Nouvelliste. Ms. Zamora engaged with the press on the various projects her organization undertakes in the country, including its four (4) core areas of activity: education, science, information-related issues, and cultural heritage protection. She stated that UNESCO is dedicated to promoting press freedom, ensuring source verification, and providing specialized training for journalists on various aspects of society to enhance the quality of reporting. Additionally, UNESCO places a strong emphasis on journalist safety, equipping them not only with the skills to bolster their capacity and credibility but also with the knowledge to safeguard themselves. Haiti is one of the countries that received a poor rating in the annual Reporters Without Borders report on the state of the press worldwide for 2022. With six journalists killed in the past ten months of the current year, Haiti shares the dubious distinction with Mexico as one of the deadliest places for journalists in the Americas in 2022.

Dela Harlley

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