Haiti Finally Names Members Of Transitional Council, But Still Remain One Short.

Photo: US Army. The Presidential Palace in Haiti was built in the 1920s during American occupation.
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Haiti’s new transitional governing council which will be responsible for selecting a new prime minister and providing Haiti with some kind of election process issued its first official statement on Wednesday, promising  to restore “public and democratic order” in Haiti.

The statement, although signed by only eight members of what is supposed to be a nine-member council, is a sign that the extended nomination process that was supposed to take only 24 hours is finally ending after more than two weeks, and that the council might soon be ready to act.

The statement said that — once in place — the body will appoint a prime minister who will assist in forming a government to “put Haiti back on the road to democratic legitimacy, stability and dignity.”

The presidential transition council — to be composed of seven voting members and two non-voting members — was first announced on March 11, after emergency meetings between Haitian leaders and several countries and organizations, including the Caribbean regional bloc CARICOM.

It is set to draw its members from Haitian political parties, the private sector and elsewhere, and is to name an interim prime minister and government to set the stage for fresh elections.

The existing, unelected, acting Prime Minister Arieal Henry has promised to resign once the council is in place, although his administration is already effectively impotent and Henry, who is believed to be in Puerto Rico, cannot even get safe passage to reenter Haiti.

“We are determined to alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people, trapped for too long between bad governance, multifaceted violence and disregard for their perspectives and needs,” they said.

The members noted that as soon as the council is officially installed, it will help “put Haiti back on the path of democratic legitimacy, stability and dignity.”

Precisely how the council intends to wrest power back from the heavily armed gangs that haver taken over the country remains to be seen. One plan is to bring in a multinational force headed by Kenyan police, but no details are available, and it is not even clear if such an action is feasible, as it is controversial within Kenya.

The statement was issued nearly a month after gangs began targeting key government infrastructures across Port-au-Prince. They burned police stations, shot at the main international airport, which remains closed, and stormed Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

Scores of people have been killed, and 17,000 have been left homeless.

The violence, which has reduced over the last few days, has been at its worst in downtown Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

The council members pledged to “execute a clear action plan aimed at restoring public and democratic order through the restoration of the security of the lives and property of the population, the relief of poverty and the achievement of free elections as well as the reforms necessary to the progress of the nation.”

The members said they have developed the criteria and mechanisms to choose a council president, a new prime minister and a ministerial cabinet.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who remains locked out of Haiti, has said he will resign once the council is formally established.

“We are at a crucial turning point that calls us to unity. It is imperative that the entire nation comes together to overcome this crisis for the well-being of all and a future better for our country,” the council members said.

Those who signed the statement were Fritz Alphonse Jean, with the Montana Accord group; Leslie Voltaire with Fanmi Lavalas; Louis Gerald Gilles with the December 21 Agreement political group, which is allied with Henry; Laurent Saint-Cyr with the private sector; Edgard Leblanc Fils with the January 30 political group; Emmanuel Vertilaire with the Pitit Desalin party; Augustin Smith with the EDE/RED political party; and Frinel Joseph as one of two nonvoting observers.

Smith recently replaced former nominee Dominique Dupuy, a UNESCO ambassador, who announced Sunday that she was resigning following political attacks and death threats.

Source: VOA/AP
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