Haiti: is the government cracking down on ex-soldiers?

More than 100 people claiming to be former members of the disbanded Armed Forces of Haiti (Fad'H) marched to Port-au-Prince from Carrefour, on the capital's southwestern outskirts, on May 18 to mark Haiti's Flag Day. They were wearing combat fatigues and some were armed. A few admitted to a reporter that they were too young to have been in the military in 1995 when it was disbanded by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004); others were women, even though the Fad'H had been all male. The marchers were calling on the government of President Michel Martelly ("Sweet Micky") to restore the old military.

Inside Port-au-Prince the march was met by agents of the National Police of Haiti (PNH) and soldiers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH); about 50 people were arrested. Junior Public Security Minister Reginald Delva described the group as a criminal association, but the ex-soldiers' leaders say they will continue their activities, which since January have included training exercises, occupations of old military bases and camps, and an armed march on the Parliament.

Their latest demonstration came just two days after President Martelly officially installed Laurent Lamothe as his prime minister, the second in the year since Martelly took office. (AlterPresse, Haiti, May 18; Radio Métropole, Haiti, May 18, May 19)

On May 25 one of the ex-soldiers, former sergeant Serge Réginald, told Haiti's Radio Kiskeya that the government's new attitude—as expressed in the May 18 arrests and in the retaking of some camps from the group since then--amounted to "treason." Speaking from the former Lamentin camp in Carrefour, Réginald implied that previously Martelly and his government had backed the ex-soldiers and given them aid. (Radio Kiskeya, May 25)

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