The gangs are threatening the security of Haiti

Haitian politician shot dead, as violent gangs push country to the ‘edge of collapse’

This article is more than 6 years old

This article is more than 6 years old

The deaths of two former presidents and a prime minister, as well as the shooting of a prominent nationalist leader, indicate that the country has passed from a time of hope to violent gangs, a political transition that has left Haiti in a state of collapse.

A former president of the country, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was shot dead in his home in Lecapon and a political gang leader was murdered outside the presidential palace in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Two former prime ministers were killed in separate incidents and more than 40 people were wounded in the same period of violent attacks.

Aristide, aged 74, was shot dead in his own house this weekend, as several of his neighbours were also targeted by a gang that had set off teargas canisters at their home earlier this week.

Dissident leaders were killed overnight after a grenade was thrown into the presidential palace and as a mortar exploded outside, wounding several people.

Groups of men armed with guns, machetes and knives stormed the streets of La Saline in Port-au-Prince, injuring several people.

Their violence is a sign of a political transition that has left the country in the grip of armed gangs and a deep state that is struggling to find its footing.

The gangs are becoming more powerful, threatening the security of the country as they take over key positions and control local resources.

The murders of politicians suggest that a fragile democracy with a weak police force and poor institutions is being taken over by the gangs in a process that has been accelerated by the recent turn against Aristide.

The government has responded to the violence with increased repression, jailing and detaining alleged gang members, and President Michel Martelly has expressed sympathy for the gangs, but does not seem to have the power to stop them.

“The gangs want to keep the population divided and they use the government to push their ideas through the society,” said a senior Haitian police official, who requested anonymity.

“The police are afraid. And they are not going to be able to stop them.”

The violence started after Aristide was ousted in a military coup earlier this year – in a move that was condemned by other

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