Haiti’s PM sacks top officials as political tensions rise

 In response to Canada's new penalties on the Haitian gang boss, Ariel Henry has fired many government officials and the commissioner.

In a new wave of political turmoil amid international sanctions, interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry of Haiti has dismissed the country's Justice and Interior Ministers, as well as its Government Commissioner.

Documents acquired by the Associated Press on Monday reveal that former Justice Minister Berto Dorce initially fired Government Commissioner Jacques Lafontant on Henry's orders before being ousted himself along with Interior Minister Liszt Quitel.

Henry did not provide an explanation for the dismissals, and his spokeswoman could not be reached for comment

Of July 2021, just than two weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, Henry assumed the additional role of interior minister in Haiti while continuing to serve as prime minister. Emmelie Prophete Milce is the fifth person to hold the position of justice minister in the previous two years.

Since Moise was murdered in Port-au-Prince on July 7 of last year, a political vacuum has existed, leading to an increase in crime and instability throughout the Caribbean nation.

An ongoing gang blockade of a major petrol terminal in the capital city has caused water and energy shortages, contributed to growing rates of hunger, and impeded local healthcare professionals' response to a fatal epidemic of cholera. The blockage began in September and has continued for weeks.

Earlier this month, Haitian authorities retook the Varreux port, prompting jubilation across the streets of Port-au-Prince on Saturday when petroleum stations reopened after being closed for two months.

The gas has been turned on!" People honked their horns and shouted, "There's gas now!" as motorcyclists zipped by. Davidson Jean-Pierre, 35, who runs a modest house-painting company, described today as "the day that life begins anew."

Around 400 trucks waited up at the terminal last week to refuel, and a highly armed police convoy drove them to petrol outlets in the city and beyond.

After days of battling with police who attempted to retake authority in the region, the formidable G9 gang alliance in Haiti, led by former police officer Jimmy Cherizier - known as "Barbecue" - declared that it was releasing the blockage, and the truck drivers arrived.

Canada added further restrictions against Cherizier on Monday, as part of a "sanctions regime" authorized by the United Nations Security Council last month, which specifically targeted him and other members of criminal gangs in Haiti.

There is "reason to believe" this person "has engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed, or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses," as stated by the Canadian government.

To paralyze and cripple criminal organizations, Canada implemented penalties, according to a statement.

Last week, Canada and the United States imposed sanctions on two Haitian government officials for their suspected connections to criminal organizations, even as they continued negotiations to set up a "non-UN, international security support mission" in the country.

The State Department announced on Monday that US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland would be holding a virtual meeting with leaders of Canada and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Tuesday "to discuss Haiti."

The prime minister, Henry, had urged the international community in October to deploy a "specialized armed force" to put an end to the violence, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had backed this request.

Some members of Haitian civil society, however, are opposed to outside interference. After Henry postponed last year's presidential and legislative elections indefinitely, many rights advocates questioned his legitimacy and blamed him for the political turmoil.


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