Canada’s ambassador to Haiti says security needed before elections

Click to play video: 'Haiti prime minister rushed to safety as armed group opens fire'
Haiti prime minister rushed to safety as armed group opens fire
WATCH: Haiti prime minister rushed to safety as armed group opens fire – Jan 4, 2022

Ahead of an international conference on Haiti led by his country, Canada’s ambassador to the Caribbean nation called for a politically “inclusive accord” to address a deepening constitutional crisis following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

In an interview in Port-au-Prince, diplomat Sebastien Carriere expressed concern about the degradation of the security situation in Haiti, which will be a central topic of a virtual meeting Friday that will include ministers from Canada, the United States and France, among other countries. The meeting with be led by Melanie Joly, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Canada is absolutely concerned with the security situation” in Haiti, Carriere told The Associated Press.

But Carriere added that Haiti’s crisis is multipronged and complex, with economic, humanitarian and security aspects and a looming leadership deadline. Citing U.N. numbers, he said “4.6 million Haitians live in a state of humanitarian emergency.”

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Canada views elections as inevitable in Haiti given the institutional collapse but their timing is anybody’s guess.

“Canada believes that the security must be reestablished before elections are held. In the current context it would be very difficult to have elections, in particular with competing political accords,” he said.

Moise’s killing complicated an already fragile political situation in Haiti. He had controversially claimed that his term would end on Feb. 7, 2022. Shortly before his death, Moise had tapped current interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry for the post and many observers think that Henry’s term should end on Feb. 7 as well.

Click to play video: 'Fuel truck explosion in Haiti kills around 40 people: prime minister'
Fuel truck explosion in Haiti kills around 40 people: prime minister

To make the matter worse, Haiti’s legislative and the judiciary branches also face legitimacy crises, along with the executive branch.

Many parts of Haitian civil society are calling for “accords” that would allow for a consensual leadership of the country while it waits to renew its institutions through elections.

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Henry himself claims to be spearheading one such accord, called the “September 11th accord.” Competing accords have also been developed in recent months. The main rival to Henry’s accord is known as the “Montana Accord.”

With a showdown looming between the Henry government and parts of civil society, Carriere said Canada will take no sides.

“If we do have a preference, it is for everyone to get under one accord,” he said, calling for an inclusive accord.

Canada wants such an accord to be reached preferably before Feb. 7. Henry’s frail legitimacy risks being challenged even further after that date.

The Canadian diplomat keeps his hopes and focus on Friday’s conference as a sliver of hope for Haiti.

For him, security remains the top issue “I am seeing a population that’s being held hostage by the insecurity.”

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