Members from the Haitian opposition Passarelle platform, who have been meditating since November between radical opposition parties and the government, met Monday with President Jovenel Moise to hand him a copy of the so-called Marriott agreement, signed by several groups to demand the president’s immediate resignation and the establishment of a transitional government.
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Despite the president’s calls for dialogue and union, his opponents backed by hundreds of thousands of protesters who have been taking to the streets for almost a year, have been refusing to negotiate, as the whole spectrum of opposition forces agree that the president’s resignation is the first condition if a way out of the crisis is to be found.
The Haitian opposition however is fragmented. On Monday, spokesman for the opposition Democratic and Popular Sector (DPS), Michel Andre, which is one of the president's strongest critics, rejected the meeting between the committee representing the platform and the president, saying that Moise should not have met with Passerelle, but with the DPS.
Nonetheless, Andre agreed that the first step towards an end to the political, economic and social crisis must be the resignation of the president, the establishment of an interim administration, and trials for those state officials involved in cases of corruption, especially the embezzlement of Petrocaribe funds, meant to finance infrastructure development along with health, education and social programs across the impoverished nation.
Haiti has been experiencing a situation of fragile calm since last month after consecutive months of mass anti-government protests that paralyzed the country.
On Dec. 2, some schools reopened, as services such as public transportation and public administration along with some businesses resumed their activities.
The mass demonstrations that mobilized almost all sectors of civil society, call for the deep transformation of a system that has been governing the Caribbean nation since the end of the dictatorship in 1986 and seen as profoundly unequal and corrupt.
Despite the popular pressure, Moise -who is backed by the United States- said he would carry on his term until its end, pointing out that his resignation would be “irresponsible” while using the Constitution as his legal argument to retain his position.
The unrest in Haiti started in February following major corruption allegations.
As the country was already dealing with a tense economic crisis and high inflation, a report was published accusing Moise and dozens of officials of having embezzled US$2 billion from Petrocaribe, the cut-price-oil aid program that Venezuela offered to several Caribbean countries, among them Haiti.
The Carribean island of 11 million people has been struggling for decades to overcome extreme poverty along with widespread corruption. These last ten years were particularly harsh for Haiti, which went through one of the world's deadliest earthquakes in 2010, an epidemic of cholera, brought in accidentally by United Nations peacekeepers, and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.