Return of the de factos. Armed irregular forces continue to wield power – Haiti Support Group press release, 22 April 2004
The London-based Haiti Support Group, a solidarity organisation working alongside Haiti’s popular, democratic movement since 1992, continues to be very concerned by moves by armed irregular forces to establish themselves as de facto administrative authorities.
Two recent incidents highlight what may well be a process taking place all over the country. According to the Haitian Press Agency, on 19 April, in Jacmel, members of the former armed opposition force, which has controlled much of the country since mid-February, prevented the installation of the government’s appointee at the departmental education office. Members of the armed group declared that no appointments are possible in Jacmel unless they are consulted in advance.
The Haiti Press Network reported that on 7 April, in St Marc, members of the armed former opposition organisation, RAMICOS, prevented the installation of a new government commissioner, and claimed the right to be consulted first about all such appointments.
These incidents occur against a backdrop of de facto power exercised by armed irregular groups in cities such as Gonaives, Cap-Haitien, Les Cayes and Hinche. By entering into negotiations with them, both the interim government and the foreign intervention forces have lent these blatantly illegal, de facto authorities considerable credibility. The most recent example occured in the town of Hinche on 18 April when the commander of the Chilean contingent of the multinational force and the interim director of the Haitian National Police sought ‘permission’ from the leader of the armed irregulars to deploy their forces in the Central Plateau department. A Radio Vision2000 report suggests that as part of the ‘deal’, the integration of members of the armed irregular force into the Haitian National Police was discussed.
The Haiti Support Group also notes with alarm the Reuters report of 20 April in which ex-army Colonel Remissainthe Ravix, who claims to command 1,681 former soldiers, calls on the interim government to pay former FADH soldiers some 10 years of back pay. (The FADH was demoblised in early 1995.)
We call on the interim government to denounce the existence of these illegal parallel structures and to bring an immediate end to their continued exercise of power across the country. We also call on the individuals and organisations that were so vocal in supporting the principles of democracy and the rule of law during the Aristide/Neptune administration to end their silence on the continuing erosion of governmental authority over the last two months.