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News / Nation & World

Plan to install new leaders in Haiti teeters

Some political parties oppose creation of council

By Associated Press
Published: March 13, 2024, 5:37pm

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A proposal to install new leadership in Haiti appeared to be crumbling Wednesday as some political parties rejected the plan to create a presidential council that would manage the transition.

The panel would be responsible for selecting an interim prime minister and a council of ministers that would attempt to chart a new path for the Caribbean country that has been overrun by gangs. The violence has closed schools and businesses and disrupted daily life across Haiti.

Jean Charles Moïse, an ex-senator and presidential candidate who has teamed up with former rebel leader Guy Philippe, held a news conference Wednesday to announce his rejection of the proposed council backed by the international community.

Moïse insisted that a three-person presidential council he recently created with Philippe and a Haitian judge should be implemented.

“We are not going to negotiate it,” he said in a loud voice as he wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. “We have to make them understand.”

His ally Philippe, who helped lead a successful revolt in 2004 against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and was recently released from a U.S. prison after pleading guilty to money laundering, said no Haitian should accept any proposal from the international community.

In a video posted Tuesday on social media, Philippe accused the community of being complicit with Haiti’s elite and corrupt politicians and urged Haitians to take to the streets.

“The decision of Caricom is not our decision,” he said, referring to the regional trade bloc whose leaders presented the plan to create a transitional council. “Haitians will decide who will govern Haiti.”

Other high-profile Haitian politicians declined to participate in the proposed transitional council. Among them were Himmler Rébu, former colonel of Haiti’s army and president of the Grand Rally for the Evolution of Haiti, a party that is part of a coalition awarded a spot on the transitional council.

He said in a statement that the party prefers that a judge from Haiti’s Supreme Court assume the reins of power.

Rébu added that the party is “ashamed and angry” upon seeing “the search for positions of power that do not take into account the responsibilities attached to them.”

Meanwhile, a former senator, Sorel Jacinthe, and a young politician, Jorchemy Jean Baptiste, both supporters of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the Dec. 21 coalition that backs him, called Radio Caraïbes separately Wednesday to argue why their choice for the transitional council was the best one.

The plan emerged late Monday following an urgent meeting involving Caribbean leaders, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others who were searching for a solution to halt Haiti’s crisis of violence.