AFRICANGLOBE – Protests in Haiti continue their deadly toll even as embattled Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant tries to restore calm after more than a week of unrest.
In a speech posted on Facebook on Saturday, Ceant announced that from today, Monday, a public works programme to clean canals, build roads and pick up trash would begin in a bid to provide quick access to jobs for the poor in the capital of Port-Au-Prince.
These are jobs that will be created, economic activity that will be started, and the country will be put back in shape,” said Ceant, who has acknowledged that nearly 80 percent of Haiti’s population live on less than US $2 a day, and the country’s Gross Domestic Product per inhabitant is only US $765 a year, six times less than that of neighboring Dominican Republic.
Ceant’s two month-old administration has been rocked by large-scale protests that began on November 18 as thousands have demanded the resignation of President Jovenel Moise for his alleged failure to investigate corruption and misuse of funds under the last government.
Days of clashes between police and protesters in the nation’s capital left at least three people dead, although unofficial reports put the number closer to 11, several vehicles ablaze and a police officer injured by a firebomb.
“We are going to help young people create businesses. There will be loans to create 1,000 small businesses a month, including 200 a month earmarked for young people so they can create their own jobs,” Ceant said as he tried to return hope.
Offering assurances that he was hearing the complaints of young Haitians who have spearheaded the protests, Ceant said the government would create a program of credits for young people.
In office since September, Ceant’s government has yet to present a budget to the parliament, even though Haiti’s fiscal year began October 1.
Public unrest has mounted in recent months, fueled by high inflation and a sharp devaluation of the national currency, which has hit people’s pocketbooks especially hard in the country that imports most of what it consumes.
The protests initially focused on demands for action against government corruption, but increasingly they have set their sights on Moise.
The President has remained resolute in his refusal to stand down despite the unravelling situation.
“It is within the framework of the democracy that the Haitian people elected me president in elections free and honest as the wish of the Constitution,” said Moise in a recent public broadcast.
“During the five years of my presidency, no one, I mean nobody, whatever the pretext, cannot threaten the interests of the country or put the nation in danger. The strength of any democracy, it is the respect of the law,” he said.