HAITI | Amidst Haiti’s dire quest for leadership, criminal gang leaders provide an alternative

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, March 8, 2024 – In the turbulent wake of political instability, Haiti finds itself at a crossroads, with President Ariel Henry’s authority hanging by a thread as he resides in what could almost be termed exile in Puerto Rico.

The absence of clear leadership has plunged the nation into a vortex of uncertainty, prompting the critical question: who steers the ship of state amidst these stormy seas?

This conundrum unfolds against a backdrop of escalating violence and a deepening humanitarian crisis, setting the stage for a narrative of desperation and the urgent quest for stability.

Former police officer Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier is the leader of the ‘G9’ coalition.immy Cherizier, a former police officer turned brutal gang leader known as “Barbecue,” has orchestrated a mass prison break, freeing nearly 3,700 inmates and solidifying his power as a major threat to Haiti’s stability, according to The Metro.

Amidst the power vacuum, the menacing shadow of Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, a former police officer turned gang leader, looms large. Chérizier, leading the formidable G9 Family and Allies, has not only brought the capital to its knees but has also issued a chilling ultimatum — the resignation of Henry or the specter of civil war and potential genocide.

This threat underscores the grave reality that Haiti teeters on the brink, with Chérizier’s influence illustrating the extent of governmental dysfunction. In this climate of fear and uncertainty, Jean-Charles Moise emerges as a beacon of defiance and change.

Proposing a radical overhaul of the government, Moise envisions a new leadership structure with Judge Durin Junior Duret from the Court of Appeals as the head, flanked by notable figures such as the controversial former rebel leader Guy Philippe and respected religious sector figure Francoise Saint-Vil Villier.

Representative of Haiti’s Court of Appeals at the Superior Council of the Judicial Power (CSPJ) Judge Durin Junior Duret. Photo credit: Durin Junior Duret’s Facebook account

This coalition, reflective of Moise’s vision, seeks not just to fill the leadership void but to chart a course towards a governance model rooted in dignity and the sovereign interests of Haiti.

The international dimension of Haiti’s crisis saw a glimmer of hope as President Henry sought solidarity beyond its shores, landing in Kenya to engage President William Ruto.

The pivotal meeting culminated in a landmark reciprocal agreement, potentially charting a path to stability by paving the way for the deployment of 2,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti.

However, the fabric of this hope quickly showed signs of wear, as opposition voices within Kenya vowed to challenge the deal in court, and safety concerns led some volunteers to reconsider their participation.

This episode serves as a stark reminder of the complex interplay between international goodwill and the practical challenges of implementing such ambitious interventions.

Haiti at a Crossroads: Leadership Uncertainty Amidst Crisis

In the shadow of Haiti’s escalating crisis, President Ariel Henry finds himself in a precarious position, virtually in exile in Puerto Rico. This development raises pressing questions about who holds the reins of power in Haiti, a country grappling with unprecedented challenges.

The uncertainty surrounding the governance and leadership in Haiti is not just a domestic concern but a matter of international significance, given the nation’s strategic position in the Caribbean and its ongoing humanitarian crisis.

The situation is further complicated by the emergence of powerful voices calling for drastic changes in Haiti’s political landscape. Among these is Jean-Charles Moise, a prominent figure advocating for a new government structure.

Moise proposes a coalition government, suggesting a judge to lead the nation with support from key figures like the controversial former rebel leader Guy Philippe and respected religious sector leader Francoise Saint-Vil Villier.

This proposal, set against the backdrop of increasing violence and instability, represents a clarion call for a shift from the status quo, demanding Prime Minister Henry and his cabinet to resign or face the consequences.

Amidst these calls for change, the threat posed by Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, a former police officer turned gang leader, looms large. Chérizier, who leads the G9 Family and Allies, a federation of gangs, has capitalized on the political vacuum to assert his influence over Port-au-Prince.

His declaration that Haiti could descend into civil war or even genocide if Henry remains in power underscores the gravity of the crisis. With Chérizier’s ability to bring the capital to its knees, the urgency for a political solution and a stable governance structure has never been more critical.

Diplomatic Efforts Amidst Turmoil

Jean-Charles Moise, a prominent figure advocating for a new government structure.

In an effort to address the spiraling crisis, President Ariel Henry embarked on a crucial diplomatic mission, traveling to Kenya to meet with President William Ruto.

Their discussions culminated in a significant agreement, paving the way for a multinational force aimed at restoring order in Haiti. This pivotal moment saw the two leaders signing a deal that would send 2,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti, a move symbolizing international solidarity and cooperation.

However, this ambitious initiative has not been without its detractors. A Kenyan opposition politician has voiced intentions to challenge the agreement in court, reflecting the complex web of political and kanunî considerations that accompany international interventions.

The situation is further complicated by the withdrawal of several Kenyan officers who had initially volunteered for the mission. Concerns over safety and the lack of clear operational mechanisms highlight the daunting challenges faced by those on the frontline of peacekeeping efforts.

The violent unrest in Haiti, marked by a series of coordinated attacks by gangs in Port-au-Prince, underscores the perilous environment awaiting international forces. These developments signal the difficulties in mobilizing a cohesive response to Haiti’s crisis, even as countries from around the world pledge their support.

Despite these challenges, a diverse coalition of nations has stepped forward to bolster Haiti’s path to stability. Countries such as Jamaica, Barbados, Bangladesh, Benin, and others have pledged support, showcasing a küresel commitment to peace and security.

Jamaica, under Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has committed personnel from its constabulary force and defense force, while other CARICOM members like The Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda have also expressed their willingness to contribute.

The United States has pledged significant financial support, although it has opted not to send personnel. This tapestry of international aid reflects a multifaceted approach to addressing Haiti’s complex crisis, even as the deployment of the multinational force encounters hurdles.

Navigating Challenges: From Deployment Delays to Arms Trafficking

Jean-Charles Moise, a prominent figure advocating for a new government structure.

The deployment of the multinational force, a critical element in the international strategy to stabilize Haiti, has faced significant delays.

After months of deliberation, the Security Council authorized the mission, not as a U.N. entity but as a separate multinational entity. Yet, the initiative has been mired in bureaucratic and kanunî obstacles, most notably in Kenya, where the high court is set to rule on the constitutionality of the Kenyan police force’s deployment.

This kanunî battle epitomizes the complexities of international cooperation in crisis situations, underscoring the challenges of translating political will into actionable solutions on the ground.

Adding to the complexity is the troubling issue of arms trafficking, which fuels the violence tearing through Haiti’s social fabric. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has highlighted the influx of firearms and ammunition from the United States, particularly Florida, into the hands of Haitian criminals.

This illicit flow, facilitated by ships and small aircraft utilizing clandestine airstrips, has emboldened gangs like the 5 Segond and 400 Mawozo, exacerbating the security dilemma. The U.S. has expressed concern over this development, emphasizing efforts to curb the trafficking of arms that contribute to Haiti’s instability.

As Haiti teeters on the brink, the international community’s call for a political resolution grows louder. The need for a strengthened national police force, rapid deployment of the multinational force, and credible elections are seen as pivotal to Haiti’s recovery. The political landscape, however, remains fraught with tension.

Figures like Jean-Charles Moise and Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier symbolize the deep divisions and challenges that must be navigated. The path forward demands not only international cooperation but a genuine commitment to Haiti’s sovereignty and the well-being of its people, urging all stakeholders to work towards a peaceful, stable, and prosperous future for Haiti.(WiredJA)