Haitian prime minister condemns violence in anti-government protests


A man reacts in a street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jun. 10, 2019. EPA-EFE/JEAN MARC HERVE ABELARD

Port-au-Prince.- Haiti’s nominated prime minister on Monday condemned the violence that occurred during Sunday’s protests in the Caribbean country which led to seven deaths, according to unofficial reports.

Jean Michel Lapin said the right to protest is guaranteed by the country’s constitution, but violence is unacceptable.

Tensions prevailed in capital Port-au-Prince on Monday, a day after violent protests in several parts of the country.

Andre Michel, the spokesperson of the principal opposition group, the Democratic and Popular Sector, said in a press conference on Sunday that seven people had been killed and over 100 injured.

Lapin lamented the loss of life that resulted from the protests by sectors of the opposition and congratulated the national police for their «good professional work,” a day after PetroChallenger citizens’ movement described the behavior of many police officials as unacceptable, saying they «create panic and kill civilians.»

The leader issued a statement in which he expressed his condolences to the family members of the victims and asked the authorities to investigate and punish those who violated the law.

«I deplore the unfortunate actions that happened yesterday in the protests. The right to protest is a constitutional right, but violence is not acceptable,» said Lapin, who was appointed to office by Haitian President Jovenel Moises.

The economic crisis in Haiti continues to worsen amid the absenteeism of authorities, especially of Moises, whose name has surfaced in the investigation that the country’s Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes conducted on the alleged embezzlement of funds from the PetroCaribe program, through which Venezuela supplies oil to the country at below-market prices.

The Caribbean country has not approved the national budget for this year, while inflation has grown by more than 15 percent for the third consecutive month.

Thousands had gone onto the streets of Port-au-Prince and other cities days after the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes released a report implicating a company owned by the president in the alleged misuse of Venezuela-sponsored PetroCaribe funds.

Several witnesses told EFE that a police official stoned a person to death in front of the residence of the president and members of the presidential guard charged a group of protesters, leaving one dead and several injured.

Another two people died in the demonstration in Cap-Haitien, according to information provided by the opposition.
On May 31, the court sent to parliament its final report on the alleged misuse of the PetroCaribe funds.

According to the media, the investigation revealed that the company Agritrans, owned by Moise, received millions of dollars to execute several projects which were not carried out.

The report also revealed the existence of a network of officials within the Haitian government that allegedly obtained contracts for friends of ex-president Michel Martelly as well as for former prime minister Laurent Lamothe.

It describes as «serious» the way several governments spent over $2 billion of PetroCaribe funds between 2008-2016, half of the resources generated by the program during that period.

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