PORT AU PRINCE – Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets here last Friday demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse and the lack of a response from the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, António Guterres, to their calls that the international community withdraw political support for the embattled head of state.
Violent clashes took place between protesters and police in several cities where economic activities and traffic were paralysed by barricades of burning tyres. Schools and most businesses and public institutions kept their doors closed.
Units of the Haitian National Police (PNH) armed with bulletproof vests, shields and water cannons, and supported by members of the Intervention and Maintenance Corps (CIMO) manned several roadblocks even as demonstrators were able to torch government buildings.
Media reports said that at least one person was shot dead in Cap-Haïtien on the north coast of the island, while demonstrators were wounded in Jeremie, the capital of one of the ten departments in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
Police have so far given no report of injuries or deaths as a result of the demonstrations on Friday, when several opposition politicians travelled to the headquarters of the UN mission seeking a response to an earlier letter sent to Gueterres on the political situation here.
Opposition Leader in the Senate, Evalière Beauplan, told the crowd that the letter had been sent to the UN Secretary General last Wednesday calling on the international community to withdraw political support for President Moïse
“They have 24 hours to decide the fate of Jovenel Moïse. No diplomatic mission can tell us what to do. We do not recognise diplomats who request negotiations. The time has passed,” the letter noted.
It warned of possible civil war, noting that “during various street demonstrations to demand his resignation Jovenel Moïse ordered a systematic crackdown on peaceful citizens who only peacefully defend their inalienable rights”.
The United Nations has already expressed concerns over reports of violence and arson in Haiti and earlier this week, UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said that the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, known by its acronym MINUJUSTH, had been calling on everyone to “refrain from the use of violence”.
In June, the Security Council approved a resolution to create a UN “Integrated Office” in Haiti to support the government in strengthening political stability and good governance.
The UN said it will be run by a Special Representative, who will assist the Haitian government with planning elections; human rights training for police as well as responding to gang violence.
Apart from demanding Moïse’s resignation, opposition supporters have been taking to the streets in recent weeks as a result of a deepening economic crisis along with chronic food and fuel shortages.
In a radio and television broadcast last week, Moïse said that he wanted all stakeholders to come together to deal with the problems facing the country.
“I extend my hand to all the forces of the nation to form together a Government of National Unity, able to address the urgent problems of the country,” he said, adding that all actors should be involved in the initiative.
In August, Moïse had called on Parliament to approve the nomination and government of Prime Minister Fritz William Michel, describing him as “a brilliant civil servant who has devoted his entire career to serving the people of Haiti”.
Michel, a former executive in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, became the fourth prime minister of this French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country, since President Moïse became the head of state in 2017.