PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Feb 16, CMC – A former government minister is calling on President Jovenel Moise to convene a three-day conference that will allow all stakeholders to discuss the way forward for the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country that has been rocked by violent street protests that have so far claimed the lives of seven people.
Former environment minister, Pierre Simon Georges, in an open letter to Moise, said that the head of state, while he “still has the legitimacy to address the people …ask for a moratorium to react to their demands and to convene a conference of three days where all the political confessions and the active forces of the nation will together make decisions” regarding the future of the country.
President Moise has already said he would not step down from office and has promised Haitians he has no intention of putting the country in the hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers.
Opposition political parties have been staging street demonstrations in support of their calls for President Moise to step down, after accusing him of not investigating allegations of corruption in the previous government over PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. At least seven people have been killed in the protests so far. Several others have been injured in clashes with police.
Earlier this month, the President of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes (CSC/CA), Pierre Volmar Demesyeux, presented a copy of the report on the management of projects financed by the PetroCaribe funds to the Speaker of the Senate Carl Murat Cantave.
Cantave has since presented the report to Senator Youri Latortue, the President of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
The Catholic Bishops of the Episcopal Conference Haiti (CEH) earlier this week urged Haitians to come together and deal with the political situation confronting the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country and several Western countries have condemned the “unacceptable acts of violence” in the country.
CARICOM has also expressed concern at the violence and called for dialogue among all stakeholders. Several foreign embassies have closed and non-essential staff members have been sent out of the country. The United States has told its citizens “do not travel to Haiti”
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa is “very much concerned by the situation in Haiti” which he said “impacts many Canadians who have family and friends in Haiti.
“We are also very aware of a number of Canadians who are currently stranded in Haiti and who want to come back and have to return to Canada. We are working with Global Affairs and our entire Diplomatic Corps to help them.”
On Friday, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), announced that it had stopped with immediate effect, the deportation of Haitians.
“No more Haitians will be expelled from Canada to Haiti because of riots and insecurity that persist in this country,” said Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr, the CBSA spokesman adding “an administrative reprieve on removals to Haiti will take effect immediately until further notice”.
Meanwhile, the human rights group, the Office of Citizen Protection (OPC), is expressing “deep concern” at the unfolding situation in the country.
“Such a situation may provoke a serious humanitarian crisis endangering many people including women, children, people with reduced mobility, the sick, the wounded, the elderly who are the categories most exposed to great vulnerability in such circumstances.”
The OPC said it wanted to take the opportunity to reiterate the importance of respect, protection and implementation of human rights particularly where “the protagonists are required to facilitate the establishment of humanitarian corridors that can serve populations in difficulty.
“In various areas, particularly in the metropolitan area, many people no longer have access to water, food and medical care. Pregnant women are forced to give birth inside their homes in difficult conditions in the absence of health professionals taking into account the inaccessibility of public roads.
“Patients with kidney failure are unable to seek treatment. In provincial hospitals, several patients have already died from lack of oxygen. On the other hand, children from low-income and low-income families are starving in many of the poorer neighbourhoods of the country,” the OPc added.