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Haiti bans weapons as political parties organise street demonstrations


Haiti bans weapons as political parties organise street demonstrations

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PORT AU PRINCE – Haiti has announced a temporary ban on carrying firearms throughout the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country until Thursday as Haitians commemorate the 212th anniversary of the assassination of Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines on Wednesday.

“All licenses to carry a firearm are considered, in this circumstance, to be a license to possess firearms within the boundaries of the domicile of the citizen who is the holder, in accordance with Articles 268-1 and 268-2 of the Constitution,” Justice and Public Security Minister, Jean Roody Aly said, adding that the ban would remain in effect until Thursday, October 19 at midnight.

He said law enforcement and judicial authorities are the only ones allowed to travel during this period with their regulatory and service weapons.

The authorities also called on private security agencies to adopt the temporary in order to prevent their staff from traveling with service weapons.

The move comes as Haitians take to the streets Wednesday to protest several issues such as the PetroCaribe funds, the cost of living, the minimum wage, the reform of the Constitution as well as the frequent overseas visits of President Jovenel Moise.

Aly said the National Police of Haiti and the Public Prosecutor’s Offices of the Republic have been instructed to crack down with the utmost rigor against anyone violating the laws.

But one of the organisers of the protest march, Michel André, said that the “decision of the Minister of Justice to suspend the carrying of arms throughout the territory is illegal”.

“Only the DGPNH can make such a decision. It is a strategy to facilitate the task to the armed groups close to the power. No question of obeying an illegal order,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant urged Haitians to remember the reason for commemorating the anniversary of the death of Dessalines, saying his ideas are still relevant in modern day Haiti.

He said the former Emperor had always urged solidarity with each other, national unity, inclusion of the country’s children, for the revival of the country’s economy.

“But I must also say that some of our compatriots want to take this opportunity to demonstrate, to make their voices heard on issues important to the country’s life. It’s their right.

“They have the right to do so in peace and order. It’s for that right that many have fought, many of us will continue to fight. This is one of the rights that the Constitution guarantees. Likewise this Constitution also guarantees that every person in the country can live in peace, security and peace throughout the country,” Prime Minister Céant said in a broadcast marking the first month in office.

He said these rights mean that no one should fear people.

“Neither in what they say, nor in what they do. To respect oneself is to ensure social peace, to allow businesses to function, that young men and young women find jobs. It is to allow the tourists to visit the country, to allow the farmers to sell their production, thus allowing the operators to operate. Social peace is good for everyone, for the whole country.”

The prime minister said that under the leadership of President Moise, the government will allow all citizens who decided to demonstrate to defend their ideas.

“The police will accompany any demonstration respecting the rules of the game. Our national police will protect all citizens who decide to live in peace. Everyone has the right to demonstrate, but it must be done in the respect to each other. This is the rule of democracy.

“But the police are also obliged to apply what the law provides to all those who have decided to spread the turmoil in the life of the country through acts of violence. The police will not tolerate violence on people or violence on property. The police received instructions to put order in the mess.

“A country cannot live in instability or in the attack on people or goods. We know that people make great sacrifices to open a business, buy a car, build a house. The police will not allow a group of people to remove these sacrifices,” he warned.

The Government Commissioner at the Court of First Instance (TPI) of Port-au-Prince, Clamé Ocnam Daméus, has warned the public to conform to the instructions issued by the security forces.

“The Parquet will continue to demonstrate its presence on the streets alongside all those who choose to exercise their rights guaranteed by law, including the right to protest or not,” he said.

The Commissioner said he was urging the public to keep calm and to prevent any panic.

“While everyone is entitled to peacefully participate in street protests, the fact remains that the rights of those who choose to go about their daily activities should be respected,” he added.

Earlier, the authorities said at least 1 500 police officers would be deployed on Wednesday as political organisations and other groups announced plans for street demonstrations to coincide with the anniversary.

The Secretary of State for Public Security, Ronsard St-Cyr, said the authorities have information that several organised groups would seek to take advantage of the situation and try to destabilise the country by causing riots as had occurred earlier this year.

“All measures are taken to protect the lives and property of the population,” St-Cyr said, noting that the groups planning the actions have already been identified.

An executive member of Fanmi Lavalas Schiller Louidor, said Wednesday will be the big day for accountability, while the private sector has called on the authorities to ensure there’s law and order in the country. (CMC)