PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – A member of the former Haitian army was killed by a mob on Friday, February 5th, during a demonstration of arms done to support the outgoing president, Michel Martelly, in remaining in office past his term limit.
It was a day of heightened tension that followed days of controversy over the January 29 declarations of President Michel Martelly that he would not leave the office of the presidency without a successor. Haiti teetered on the brink of civil war, the opposition was well unified and prepared to take on the Martelly regime; the fear was palpable.
This Friday morning dozens of heavily armed men in military fatigues marched through the streets of Port-au-Prince reminiscent of the dictatorship years of Haiti. The Martelly regime admitted no involvement in the demonstration.
The Minister of Defense, Lener Renauld, callously said “the former soldiers are citizens, just as the opposition has the right to demonstrate, so do they.” The comments by Renauld fueled hostilities against the regime unable to organize free and fair elections in five years and insofar unclear if it would cede power.
Opposition protesters had been holding the streets for weeks to ensure that Martelly would not remain in office past February 7, 2016. They clashed in the Champ de Mars area of downtown Port-au-Prince with the military protesters. One former soldier was killed by a mob on John Brown Avenue.
The demonstrators threw stones at the military motorcade and the armed men responded by firing their weapons. According to testimony, this would have caused the situation to degenerate to the stoning of a man in uniform in his sixties. He died at the scene.
The former soldiers were seen on many streets of the capital in Delmas and Petion Ville. The ruling party, Parti Haitien Tet Kale (PHTK) had its supporters in the streets as well on Friday.
The presidential motorcade as the demonstrations of partisans of the regime, also came under the attack of of stone throwing. A state vehicle had its windshield broken while on Delmas 49. Agents of presidential security fired shots in the air to maintain control of the situation.