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  • Writer's pictureGuyler C Delva

Haiti: Gov’t agency vows to hold talks with gang leaders

By Joseph Guyler C. Delva

April 12, 2024

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) – A government-appointed agency tasked with disarmament has vowed to officially and directly engage in talks with Haiti’s criminal armed gangs, a move which would be a prerequisite for peace and political stability in the impoverished French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARIOM) country.

Jean Rebel Dorcenat, an influential member of the current National Committee for Disarmament, Dismantling and Reinsertion (CNDDR), said direct negotiations with the gangs are unavoidable should a peaceful settlement be found.

“If now there are no serious negotiations with the gangs, all the ongoing political developments, such as the Presidential Council which is about to take office, will be in vain,” Dorcenat told the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN), on Friday.

“And such negotiations with the gangs should take place urgently and immediately to avoid the worst; the negotiations are unavoidable and should be considered mandatory in order to achieve peace,” Dorcenat said.

Dorcenat, the official spokesman and main negotiator for the CNDDR, has been calling on political authorities to provide necessary financial and logistical means, for the committee, to successfully carry out its mission.

Dorcenat reported that armed gangs have said that if the authorities negotiate a deal with them above board, they would have already abandoned their criminal activities.

“For example, I’ve spoken to one of the most feared and powerful gang leaders, Vitelhomme Innocent, who said he was ready to order his men to stop all criminal activities, such as kidnappings, assassinations, or other kinds of violence,” said Dorcenat adding “but there should be negotiations to make that happen”.

“But there was no follow up, and  the CNDDR cannot decide by itself to engage in certain negotiations without the approval of political authorities,” Dorcenat stated.

Last month, the CARICOM grouping, which is spearheading efforts for a Haitian-led solution to end the political and socio-economic crisis, said that an agreement had been reached that would allow for Prime Minister Ariel Henry to step down and for a transitional governance arrangement “which paves the way for a peaceful transition of power, continuity of governance and action plan for near term security and the road to free and fair elections”.

CARICOM said that it was also agreed that there would be the creation of a CPT comprised of seven voting members and two  observers.

Last Friday, the CPT said the political agreement had been finalised between the different political, economic and civil society sectors which constitute it.

“This agreement, which has been harmonised with the decree document on the organisation and operation of the CPT, will be immediately signed by the stakeholders and then the two documents will be officially transmitted to the Government, via CARICOM, the body facilitating the dialogue process,” the CPT said in a statement.

“The political agreement expresses a common vision of the transition constructed by the sectors and represents a responsible commitment to the Haitian people. It indicates the broad outlines of the road map for the transition period that the Presidential Council will be responsible for executing, jointly with the next consensus government. with the aim of putting the country back on the path to stability, peace, union and progress.”

Earlier this week, Haiti’s international artiste, Wyclef Jean, called for the reactivation of the CNDDR which would have to deal with the gangs in an effort to create a peaceful environment where socioeconomic and political progress could be possible.

“I think Wyclef’s tweet is very welcome and we stand ready to act; And Wyclef’s voice could take the cause very far and in the CNDDR, we would love to get in touch with Wyclef Jean because there’s so much he may help us achieve,” Dorcenat told HCNN.

“Clef’s voice could be so helpful in the process to sensitize people to the need to pacify the country and recreate hope,” Dorcenat said, adding the CNDDR is open to having a meeting with Jean, even if such a meeting is held virtually.

“With Wyclef Jean being involved, a roundtable meeting, with representatives from different relevant communities, could take place and those local leaders could also advocate for peace, first, by requesting an immediate truce, which could last at least two weeks, to allow for further arrangements and steps towards a sustainable solution to the crisis.

“The CNDDR was created precisely for the purpose of dealing with armed gangs and “we are ready to move forward immediately, but the government should be involved because we need the support of the authorities to find the necessary means to take a number of actions.”

According to the CNDDR’s spokesman, the committee would take the responsibility to go and sit down with those armed guys, to collect their demands, and then a proposal, which could be discussed with the coming authorities, could be formulated.

Dorcenat said, “anywhere in the world, if you allow gangs to go about their dirty business unchallenged, they will continue to commit crimes and even expand their reach”.

He said he has been to almost all the violent ghettos and has never been attacked “because I’ve been talking to them very franckly, without hypocrisy”.


Story written by Joseph Guyler C. Delva, for the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN).

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