Haiti's Prime Minister wants to mobilize its army of 2000 soldiers

PHOTO RALPH TEDY EROL, ARCHIVES REUTERS

By Evens Sanon, The Associated Press, March 17, 2023

Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry signaled on Friday that he wanted to mobilize the Haitian military to help the national police fight the country's increasingly powerful gangs.

During an appearance at the headquarters of the armed forces that he intended to mobilize all security forces in the country in the fight against gang violence. This statement comes against an uncertain backdrop as Haiti and some UN officials continue to pressure the international community to deploy foreign armed troops to help quell widespread violence.

Jean Robenson Servilius, who works at the Haitian Ministry of Defense's press office, confirmed to The Associated Press that officials were working on plans to involve the military. He said the armed forces currently number some 2,000 soldiers and more are being recruited, adding that they have been trained by experts in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia.

Mr. Robenson said he could not provide further details.

The Haitian army was disbanded in 1995 after participating in several coups. It has been accused of other political interference as well. President Jovenel Moïse restored the armed forces after the UN ended its peacekeeping operation in Haiti known as MINUSTAH.

Since then, the military's role has been limited to protecting the prime minister of Haiti, among other things.

"Are we ready to work hand in hand with law enforcement in the fight against insecurity? asked Ariel Henry during his visit to Haiti's military headquarters.

The prime minister did not say when the army would be put into action, how many soldiers would be called up for duty or what role they would play, but he stressed that their help was needed.

“We will not be able to build the Haiti we want with gangs raging everywhere. They must listen to reason, or we will make them listen to reason in spite of themselves,” he said.

Gangs control around 60% of the capital of Port-au-Prince and have killed hundreds of people in the past months in their fight to control more territory, following the July 2021 assassination of Jovenel Moïse. Violence has forced tens of thousands of Haitians have been relocate. UN officials say has reached levels not seen in decades.

 

Translated by CHIP editors

 

Posted March 18, 2023