The 14th anniversary of the 2012 earthquake was celebrated this year in a rather somber mood. On Friday, January 12, 2024, interim prime minister Ariel Henry, together with his government and members of the diplomatic corps, gathered at the monument on the grounds of the National Palace to pay homage to victims of the earthquake. The solemnity of the day was palpable as participants at the event which was more symbolic than moving stood silent for three (3) minutes in memory of those who lost their lives in what has come to be the most devastating 6 minutes and 39 seconds that changed the social and political dynamics of the country in recent memory. Prime Minister Henry arrived at the memorial at 4:46 in the morning and laid a wreath at the steps of the memorial after which the bells tolled. In his speech, the Prime Minister reminded all that the day was to commemorate the disappearance of thousands of our brothers and sisters which despite the 14 years that separate us from the actual event, the wounds are still gaping in our hearts. He exhorts us to remember that such sad memories remind us of the necessity to put aside our differences and come out of our groupings and interests, however clannish, to come together to work hand in hand to rebuild the nation, in memory of our fallen brothers and sisters. 

At the same time the ceremony was underway, sporadic gunfire could be heard from downtown Port-au-Prince. While it was worrisome to some of the officials present at the National Palace ceremony, it only amplified the state of affairs in the country. On the northern outskirts of the capital, where tens of thousands of victims of the earthquake were buried in Morne St-Christophe, not far from Titanyen and Source Puante, there were no significant and remembrance ceremonies in memory of those killed and buried there because this year, again as last year, no official commemoration ceremony could be organized in the Saint Christophe chapel. The last official ceremony dates to January 12, 2022, which was the only time that Prime Minister Ariel Henry went there. The road leading to this memorial is controlled by a gang led by one Jeff, as he is known, who is an ally of the 5 segond gang from Village-de-Dieu.

Besides the earthquake commemorations, PM Henry is facing another dilemma as February 7th approaches. According to sources, the PM, international actors and civil society leaders are multiplying efforts separately to move the country out of the morass it’s been all these whiles. The source declared that the PM is discussing with actors in Haiti and at the international community level because it appears there is a race against time with the Americans, Caricom and Ariel Henry. The latter had several exchanges with various personalities. The international community is pushing for an agreement, believing that Ariel Henry is not making enough concessions. However, the Americans do not intend to let go because there is no clear alternative to replace him. They don’t want to take a leap into the unknown.

There is the hope that the CARICOM advisory group of eminent personalities, who are trying to bring all parties to the table to come up with an agreement are said to be willing to return to the country one more time to sign an agreement but are waiting for a signal from the current PM. Unnamed sources within the December 12 accord signatories who are close to the PM have indicated that the PM informally discussing with stakeholders., and also made appointments in the regions in this spirit of openness. However, he has not yet officially notified the actors of the December 21 agreement regarding his steps. At the same time, civil society groups are also working on an agreement. A well-known Catholic bishop has already met representatives of several sectors of national life at the level of the apostolic nunciature. In addition, the organizations that facilitated the December 21 agreement made several proposals to the actors, some of which included an addendum to the agreement which will provide for increasing the membership of the transitional council, HCT, to seven members with executive powers.

Meanwhile, the secretary general of the Pitit Desalin party, Moïse Jean Charles, has come out of his self-imposed exile to not comment on political news, to announce the launch of a movement aimed at removing the current PM from office. At a press conference organized in his residence in Baryè Batan (Milot) the former presidential candidate broke his silence on political commentary to the press, deploring the government’s refusal to set up an electoral council to organize elections in the country, and citing the insecurity and kidnappings which are increasing in most departments of the country, particularly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. In his movement to be launched on January 25, 2024, the former lawmaker from the North called for the immediate unconditional resignation of PM Henry and his government on February 7, 2024, with the aim, according to him, of alleviating the suffering of the Haitian people and restoring peace and tranquility in the country. Moïse Jean Charles stressed the need for the collaboration of all sectors of the society to launch this movement against the power in place. When asked about the movement of former rebel Guy Philippe, who is promoting a revolution in the country, the former mayor of Milot dodged the question, and simply continued inviting all sectors to come together to force Prime Minister Ariel Henry to leave power next February 7. 

Finally, demonstrations across the country are being staged to force the Ariel Henry government out of power and in Carrefour, as well as Miragoâne, calls by the former rebel Guy Phillippe for civil disobedience against the PM has been heeded by those who took to the streets brandishing placards that praise the former soldier and coup leader who was recently deported from the US after serving a prison sentence there. Institutions have been shut down in Jérémie also in response to the strike action. On Sunday, heavily armed individuals attacked the Saint-Michel de l’Attalaye police station, where several detainees held in police custody, including an individual arrested for pretending to be a police officer, escaped, with little opposition from the police officers on duty. The national water authority, DINEPA thanked the Dominican Minister of Industry and Commerce, Victor Bisonó, for facilitating the return of the 30 tons of hydraulic equipment blocked in the Dominican Republic. During the official launch of the 32nd edition of pre-carnival activities in Jacmel, the Departmental Directorate of the South-East Police took the opportunity to present its plan to strengthen the security system during this period, where strategic axes will be occupied by agents order to secure and facilitate the movement of carnival-goers. The Carnival date is set for February 14, 2024, under the theme “Pandan n’ap danse, ann planifye yon nouvelle Ayiti”.

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