Haiti News – Haiti’s Transition Council advances its security mission

13 May  2024

 

 Plans for foreign security deployment are advancing following the installation of Haiti’s transitional council after the official resignation of former Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s controversial government. 

“We have served the nation during difficult times,” said Henry in a statement released before the nine-member council took their oaths at what was reportedly a secret ceremony at the presidential palace. 

“The swearing-in of members of the Presidential Transitional Council (CPT) represents a critical step in Haiti’s return to inclusive governance. We commend all participants for their commitment to seeking compromise and working together to improve the lives of all Haitians,” said US Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols. 

However, since the ceremony, the council has been faced with questions of longevity following internal strife. 

Already under scrutiny for its contentious decision-making process, the council is making another shift. This time, the focus is on redefining the criteria for pivotal decisions, including the selection of the country’s next Prime Minister and determining leadership roles for coordination. 

The development unfolds against a backdrop of internal turmoil, threatening the council’s stability and prompting intense negotiations. 

The Miami Herald reported that a majority of the council’s seven voting members has opted to revoke Edgard Leblanc Fils’ presidency, favouring instead a rotating leadership structure among four members. Additionally, the council has agreed that critical decisions will require a supermajority of five members. 

These adjustments follow discord stemming from the council’s initial decision to elect a president, which sparked controversy and almost led to its dissolution. 

In the past week, following an announcement of a public vote for the selection of their leader, the council abruptly walked back the decision. Instead, a “Solidarity Majority Bloc” comprising four members unilaterally opted to install Leblanc, a former president of the Haitian Senate and presidential candidate, as their leader. 

Disregarding established protocols, they also handpicked Fritz Bélizaire, a former Youth and Sports Minister, to replace the former Prime Minister, Ariel Henry. 

This move sparked immediate controversy, with minority bloc members and various sectors of Haitian society accusing the majority bloc of violating the 3 April political agreement. Allegations surfaced of clandestine dealings aimed at gaining control of governmental portfolios for personal enrichment and manipulating the electoral apparatus ahead of pending general elections, the scheduling of which remains uncertain. 

“The members of the presidential council have the heavy responsibility of leading this transition and demonstrating good governance and transparency in their decisions in order to restore confidence among the population in their leaders and elites,” said a joint statement from a group of civil society organisations. 

Despite these issues and what seems to be a lack of a concrete governance arrangement that will hold until the council’s mandate expires in 2026, the majority of the council appears to be in agreement on the need to deploy the international mission to bring the surge in violence in the country under control. 

The New York Times reported that civilian contractors and supplies have begun arriving in Haiti aboard US military planes, heralding the imminent deployment of a multinational security mission led by Kenya. 

These contractors are expected “to help secure the airport before building a base of operations there for the international security force. More planes carrying construction contractors and equipment were expected in the coming days”. 

“The deployment of the multinational security support mission in Haiti is urgent, and we’re doing all we can to advance that goal… Every day that goes by is a lost opportunity to provide greater security for the Haitian people. And that’s why we’re doing everything we can, along with our Kenyan partners to advance that,” said the US’ Brian Nicholls. 

Several nations, including The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Suriname, Barbados and Jamaica, have pledged personnel, with training initiatives already underway. However, despite reports that it may be a matter of weeks, it remains to be seen just how soon Haiti will see actual boots on the ground. 

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Source: The Caribbean Insight (April 2024) 

 

 

 

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