Opposition legislator urges Dominicans to leave Haiti as quickly as possible

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The leader of the Progressive National Force (FNP),  in the Dominican Republic, Vinicio Castillo Semán, has called on nationals who are in Haiti to leave the French-speaking CARICOM country “as quickly as possible” as demonstrations continued on Wednesday to force Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry out of office.

The Committed to Development (EDE) party in Haiti has called for nationwide protests until Wednesday, the day it says Henry’s term ends.

Political observers say the date is significant in Haiti since it marked the day that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier fled for France, and February 7, 1991, marked the day that Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, was sworn in.

The American Chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Haiti, Eric Stromayer, speaking on a radio programme, reiterated the “unwavering support of the United States” for Prime Minister Henry, urging the opposition to continue holding talks with the head of the government.

“Ariel Henry will leave after the elections” he said, a position that has been echoed by Michel André, the spokesperson for the Democratic and Popular Sector opposition grouping, who has said “Prime Minister Ariel Henry will not leave without handing over power to elected officials”.

Semán said all Dominicans who are in Haiti, including diplomatic personnel, should leave quickly as Haiti “is on the verge of a civil war and from February 7, it will find itself without any legitimate authorities.

“We must prevent Dominicans from becoming victims of the chaos in Haiti. The government of President Abinader must provide all facilities for our compatriots to return as quickly as possible, including the staff of our accredited Embassy in Port-au-Prince, due to the danger of being in Haitian territory at this time.

“We must avoid Dominican deaths and injuries which, if they occurred, could worsen relations between the DR and Haiti,” Semán said, adding “we must prepare for the possibility of a mass exodus…”

He said that pressure will soon be put on the Dominican Republic to welcome Haitian migrants as refugees, “under the pretext that they are ‘fleeing a civil war’ or ‘an armed conflict’”.

“No one can rule out the existence of such a plan,” he said, adding “today more than ever, this volcano in Haiti represents a real danger for the Dominican Republic”.

Earlier this week, in an interview conducted for the “uno+Uno” Programme, the Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs,  Roberto Álvarez, said that the solution to the crisis in the neighbouring country is in the hands of Haitian leaders.

“The only thing that can happen and that we want to see happen is that the Haitian elites, whether political, religious, economic, academic, agree on a national plan, on a national project, this is the only long-term solution… but for that, you must create now the necessary conditions for order to exist in Haiti.”

Álvarez warned that, if it is not done in this way, there will be no conditions for holding elections, since there could be a threat that gangs exercise their power and take control of the country and the government.

“As long as the gangs have the power they currently have, it will be impossible to organise elections in Haiti. What would happen would be that the gangs would present their candidates and thanks to the control they have over certain territories, their candidates would come to power, imagine what that would entail,” Alvarez added.

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