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Canada, US, Allies Talk Aid for Haiti  01/22 09:21

   Haiti's spiraling insecurity and growing concerns about its ability to hold 
general elections following the killing of President Jovenel Mose prompted two 
dozen international senior officials to meet Friday and agree to increase aid.

   TORONTO (AP) -- Haiti's spiraling insecurity and growing concerns about its 
ability to hold general elections following the killing of President Jovenel 
Mose prompted two dozen international senior officials to meet Friday and 
agree to increase aid.

   Canada, which hosted the more than three-hour-long meeting with 
representatives from countries including the U.S., France and Mexico as well as 
U.N. officials, pledged $39 million in aid while other countries promised to 
improve Haiti's security situation so it could hold successful elections. They 
also committed to bolstering Haiti's National Police as violence spikes and 
gangs become more powerful, with more than 20,000 Haitians forced to live in 
unhygienic shelters amid the pandemic after losing their homes in recent months 
to gang turf battles.

   "The increase in violence is only worsening the already precarious 
humanitarian situation," said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of 
the meeting, which was behind closed doors. "We must work together to restore 
stability, and to protect the safety and well-being of the Haitian people."

   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," the office of Canadian Foreign Minister Mlanie Joly said in a 
statement after the meeting.

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

   Henry, Haiti's prime minister, said he expects to have a provisional 
electoral council in place in upcoming days and has pledged to hold elections 
this year, although he has not provided a date. He thanked the international 
community for helping Haiti during "a particularly trying time" and noted that 
violence was considerably disrupting everyday life and isolating several cities 
and towns in the southern part of the country, cutting off much needed aid.

   "There is an urgent need to address these problems and find lasting 
solutions," he tweeted during the meeting. "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."

   Haiti is a country of 11 million inhabitants where about 60% earn less than 
$2 a day, and it is facing a deepening economic crisis, with inflation spiking 
and an estimated 4.4 million people at risk of hunger. It is also struggling to 
recover from the July 7 assassination of Mose at his private residence and a 
7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck last August, killing more than 2,200 
people and destroying or damaging some 137,500 homes.

   Mose'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 
that have yet to be held, with only 10 senators currently in power.

   Opponents, meanwhile, claimed that Mose'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.

   Some worry Haiti's instability will deepen in early February when the term 
of the slain president expires. Shortly before his death, Mose 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.

   An official that attended the meeting said there was no discussion about 
possible foreign intervention or about the confidence that ministers might have 
in Henry's ability to govern.

   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.

   Jean Victor Gnus, Haiti's foreign affairs minister, met with reporters in 
Haiti after the meeting and praised the offers of help from the international 
community, saying that a stabilized Haiti also would attract investors.

 
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