Haitians protest increase in fuel prices, in Port-au-Prince

Canada, U.S. and allies discuss aid for Haiti

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said immediate action is needed to fix the security situation in Haiti as senior officials from Canada, the United States, France and other countries agreed to increase aid for the Caribbean nation’s troubled police force.

Trudeau spoke at the start of the meeting hosted by Canada, which is home to 165,000 people of Haitian origin. There is a deepening constitutional crisis in Haiti following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, as well as a climate of violence in neighborhoods dominated by criminal gangs.

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Trudeau said Haiti must rebuild and one of his ministers announced an additional $50 million Canadian ($39 million) in aid.

“The increase in violence is only worsening the already precarious humanitarian situation. We must work together to restore stability, and to protect the safety and well-being of the Haitian people,” Trudeau said.

“This will require immediate action to mitigate violence and to support the National Police of Haiti.”

Trudeau said deep governance problems are fueling the crisis in a country where delayed elections have left many posts unfilled.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said clashes between gangs have made aid deliveries difficult.

Representatives of 19 countries took part, including Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“In order to tackle insecurity, the partners agreed to strengthen their current and future support of the security sector, including the Haitian National Police, with a focus on respect for the rule of law, justice and human rights,” Joly’s office said in a statement after the meeting.

Joly said all stakeholders in Haiti need to work together and said “that without such an agreement, reestablishing security will remain a challenge, as will the holding of free and credible elections.”

Moïse’s killing complicated an already fragile political situation in Haiti.

He had been ruling by decree for more than a year after dissolving a majority of Parliament in January 2020 amid a delay in legislative elections.

Opponents, meanwhile, claimed that Moïse’s own term should have ended in February 2021, while he insisted it should continue to Feb. 7 this year — the fifth anniversary of his inauguration, which had been delayed by controversy over his election.

Shortly before his death, Moïse had tapped Henry to serve as prime minister and many observers think that Henry’s term should end on Feb. 7 as well, though he is not expected to step aside on that date.

Many parts of Haitian civil society are calling for accords that would allow for a consensual leadership of the country while it waits to renew its institutions through elections — though various factions differ on what the accord should contain.

Henry tweeted on Friday that he wants democratic institution to return to normal functioning and will hand over power to elected officials as soon as possible, adding that transitional bodies will be formally installed in upcoming days. including the provisional electoral council.

He also acknowledged Haiti’s dire situation.

“There is an urgent need to address these problems and find lasting solutions,” he wrote. “I am convinced that the root cause of such a situation lies mainly in the abject poverty in which a significant part of our population lives.”