Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says while he does not rule out the possibility of Canada being part of a military intervention, or even leading one in Haiti, he also wants European countries to join the North American country in sanctioning the elites in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) over alleged ties to the violent gangs.
Speaking during a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, Prime Minister Trudeau noted however that Canada would seek to avoid some of its past mistakes as it responds to a request from Haiti’s Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry for a foreign military intervention.
“We’ve had a long history in Haiti and we still find ourselves, 30 years later, in a crisis as grave if not worse than the others,” Trudeau told the Canadian Press, adding “we are leading the United States, and maybe even Europe, to bring about their own sanctions, too”.
Haiti has been plunged into chaos with criminal gangs involved in kidnappings for ransom and opposition political parties staging street demonstrations calling for the government of Prime Minister Henry to step down. The opposition parties have also been calling for fresh presidential and legislative elections.
Henry, who took over the leadership of the country following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 7 last year, has urged the international community to send in troops to assist in maintaining law and order.
Henry has been condemning persons whom he said wanted to acquire political power in the country without first seeking a mandate from the population.
In a recent nationwide radio and television broadcast Henry, gave a commitment that the country will be in election mode before the end of 2022. But that appears unlikely to occur.
In October, Prime Minister Henry requested the deployment of foreign troops to fight gangs and help end a fuel blockade by criminal gangs that has since lifted. While no international troops have been deployed, the US and Canada have announced a flurry of sanctions on several prominent Haitian politicians accusing them of helping spread unrest in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
Among those sanctioned are former prime minister, Jean Henry Céant, Senate President Joseph Lambert and one of his predecessors, Louri Latortue. They have all denied the allegations.
Trudeau said Canada hasn’t closed the door on being part of a military intervention, or even leading one, adding “we haven’t taken anything off the table, but with 30 years of experience in Haiti, we know very well that there are enormous challenges when it comes to any intervention.
“It’s clear that our approach must change this time, and that’s why (there are) the sanctions we’ve placed.”
Political observers say that a way forward would involve not only a consensus among Haiti’s political players, but also buy-in from CARICOM countries so that whatever takes place isn’t seen as the West yet again meddling in Haiti.
“We know how much making mistakes or doing the wrong thing could worsen the situation, and put many people at risk. We remain fully involved, but we know that finding the right solution is what people need.”
Trudeau said the idea behind the sanctions is to try bringing about a consensus by holding political elites accountable rather than pouring in resources that don’t lead to durable reforms.
Canada has also funded numerous projects aimed at training the Haitian National Police, including having RCMP officers instruct recruits.
Trudeau said during the interview that Canada is ready to play a key role in whatever happens in Haiti.
“This is a challenge that is very close to our hearts, and there is a level of trust between the Haitian people and the government of Canada that they have less with other allies elsewhere,” he said, adding “we recognize that we are going to have a leading role in this”. (CMC)