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Canada, US and allies talk aid for Haiti at virtual meeting

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said immediate action is needed to fix the security situation in Haiti and that additional aid is a central topic of a virtual meeting Friday that includes cabinet officials from Canada, the United States, France and other countries.

Trudeau spoke at the start of the meeting hosted by Canada, which is home to 165,000 people of Haitian origin. There is a deepening constitutional crisis in Haiti following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, as well as a climate of violence in neighborhoods dominated by criminal gangs.

Trudeau said Haiti must rebuild and one of his ministers announced an additional $50 million Canadian ($39 million) in aid.

“The increase in violence is only worsening the already precarious humanitarian situation. We must work together to restore stability, and to protect the safety and well-being of the Haitian people,” Trudeau said.

“This will require immediate action to mitigate violence and to support the National Police of Haiti.”

Trudeau said deep governance problems are fueling the crisis in a country where delayed elections have left many posts unfilled.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said clashes between gangs have made aid deliveries difficult.

Moïse’s killing complicated an already fragile political situation in Haiti.

He had been ruling by decree for more than a year after dissolving a majority of Parliament in January 2020 amid a delay in legislative elections.

Opponents, meanwhile, claimed that Moïse's own term should have ended in February 2021, while he insisted it should continue to Feb. 7 this year — the fifth anniversary of his inauguration, which had been delayed by controversy over his election.

Shortly before his death, Moïse had tapped current interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry for the post and many observers think that Henry’s term should end on Feb. 7 as well., though he is not expected to step aside on that date.

Many parts of Haitian civil society are calling for accords that would allow for a consensual leadership of the country while it waits to renew its institutions through elections — though various factions differ on what the accord should contain.

Henry tweeted on Friday that he wants democratic institution to return to normal functioning and will hand over power to elected officials as soon as possible, adding that transitional bodies will be formally installed in upcoming days. including the provisional electoral council.

He also acknowledged Haiti’s dire situation.

“There is an urgent need to address these problems and find lasting solutions,” he wrote. “I am convinced that the root cause of such a situation lies mainly in the abject poverty in which a significant part of our population lives.”