Haiti government announces establishment of nine-member transitional council

Haiti’s government officially established a nine-member transitional presidential council on Friday, aiming to restore security in the gang-afflicted Caribbean nation.

This development marks a crucial step towards addressing Haiti’s security crisis. The creation of the council comes amidst escalating gang violence, prompting mass displacements and severe shortages of essential goods. A report released by a Haitian human rights group on Wednesday documented severe instances of gang violence in Haiti, including drive-by shootings, executions in hospital rooms and decapitations, conveying the nature by which the gangs operate by instilling fear and chaos across the country. The council’s responsibilities, such as expending the deployment of international troops to aid the police in combating armed gangs, underscore the gravity of Haiti’s security situation.

Over 95,000 people have fled the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince in recent weeks due to gang attacks that ravaged neighborhoods and forced survivors to seek refuge elsewhere.

However, the decree outlining the transitional presidential council’s formation lacks key details, such as naming its members or setting a timeline for their installation and the replacement of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Notably, the decree allows Henry to retain oversight initially, emphasizing the need for cooperation between the council and the prime minister in forming a new inclusive cabinet.

Despite the positive step towards transitional governance, significant challenges lie ahead. The delay in formalizing council members and the potential for power struggles could hinder progress towards stability. Legal and procedural hurdles, including verifying the eligibility of council candidates, may further prolong the transition process.

In a comment to JURIST, Haitian Canadian activist and dissident Jean Saint-Vil said, “from various notes and reading the Friday April 12 decree, published by the illegal Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK) government, I gather that corrupt US, Canadian, EU & Haitian politicians are still maneuvering to delay the transition as much as possible.” Saint-Vil continued:

Contrary to the draft text submitted to CARICOM—[the regional agency of Caribbean countries], the published decree specifies that to be eligible to join the Presidential Council one must not oppose the foreign occupation. Keen observers perceive the non-UN, UN blessed force as a tool to guarantee continued impunity to criminals of the US-backed PHTK regime as well as their foreign associates. Haiti is a nation held hostage.

On the issue of transitional governance, Canada’s current ambassador to the United Nations Bob Rae, in a recent interview with JURIST, asserted that “Canada’s position has been let’s work with all of the Haitian political actors, try to get them to work together, try to get them to be more supportive of building stronger common institutions, try to insist in improving the security situation and the development situation and the democratic and human rights environment.”