Advertisement

Haiti vows to investigate controversial oil deal and reduce expenses amid violent protests

Click to play video: 'Protests in Haiti turn deadly' Protests in Haiti turn deadly
WATCH: A man was shot during violent protests in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday as Haitians continued to demonstrate against the state of the economy and corruption. Protesters also set fire to a vehicle, while other people looted a store – Feb 14, 2019

The Haitian government vowed to deepen the investigation into alleged corruption in the PetroCaribe oil program and to reduce its expenses, seeking to meet some of protestors’ demands as demonstrations roil the country.

During a televised address on Saturday night, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant announced nine measures aimed at alleviating the country’s economic crisis. Ceant said the government will reduce its expenses by 30 percent, meet with the private sector to try to raise the minimum wage and appoint a new director to intensify the investigation into alleged corruption by PetroCaribe.

WATCH: Montreal Haitians show support for people in Haiti

Click to play video: 'Montreal Haitians show support for people in Haiti' Montreal Haitians show support for people in Haiti
Montreal Haitians show support for people in Haiti – Feb 16, 2019

“I and the members of the government listen to (the opposition’s) voice, we hear his cry, we understand his anger and indignation,” Ceant said.

Story continues below advertisement

Since Feb. 7, thousands of demonstrators have called for President Jovenel Moise and Ceant to resign and for an independent probe into the whereabouts of funds from the PetroCaribe agreement, an alliance between Caribbean countries and Venezuela.

The agreement’s preferential terms for energy purchases were meant to help free up funds to aid development in Haiti, which has been hammered by natural disasters and is ranked as the poorest in the Americas, according to the World Bank.

Ceant warned that the protests risked touching off a humanitarian crisis.

WATCH: Southern Alberta missionary group rescued by helicopter in Haiti

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta missionary group rescued by helicopter in Haiti' Southern Alberta missionary group rescued by helicopter in Haiti
Southern Alberta missionary group rescued by helicopter in Haiti – Feb 16, 2019

“The population suffers a lot, because blocked roads cannot deliver water to drink, food, gasoline. It is almost impossible to have electricity,” said Ceant, who had previously kept silent during the protests, which have reportedly killed several people and injured many more.

Story continues below advertisement

Since the protests broke out, several foreign governments, including the United States and Canada, have urged citizens to avoid travel to Haiti.

Demonstrations are expected to resume this week.

To address the economic crisis, the government will trim expenses by reducing trips abroad and the hiring of advisers, Ceant said. The government will also do more to seek foreign investment to reenergize the economy, he added.

WATCH: Alberta-based missionary group fleeing Haiti as violence engulfs Caribbean republic

Click to play video: 'Alberta-based missionary group fleeing Haiti as violence engulfs Caribbean republic' Alberta-based missionary group fleeing Haiti as violence engulfs Caribbean republic
Alberta-based missionary group fleeing Haiti as violence engulfs Caribbean republic – Feb 15, 2019

Moise also urged dialog between government and the opposition during a speech on Thursday.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Economic Forum of the Private Sector, a Haitian business group, welcomed the government’s calls for dialog but said the crisis was the result of Moise’s “lack of leadership.”

Advertisement

Sponsored content