The Bahamas government has ordered an immediate departure of all diplomatic personnel from Haiti or as soon as security conditions permit, following police protests in the French-speaking nation due to a slew of police killings by armed gangs.
“Up to this time, there was a voluntary departure order in place and all staff at the embassy chose to stay. Per the new instructions, they are to leave for home as soon as conditions permit,” a statement from the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday night.
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“This is only a temporary measure in light of recent developments which require a corporate security and intelligence assessment and restaging,” the statement continued.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that on Thursday morning, the head of the diplomatic mission in Port au Prince reported that they had been stopped by Haitian police and relieved of their vehicle and weapons.
“This is part of a protest by the Haitian National Police against their own authorities. All of our diplomats are personally safe. There also is a report of five Bahamians from Bahamasair who landed at Port Au Prince Airport and were unable to leave the environs of the airport. They are all safe and well,” the foreign affairs ministry reported.
The ministry continued to say that the security situation in Haiti appears less stable over the past three days in the country, and they are taking steps out of an abundance of caution.
“The Security Forces in our country have been alerted to these developments. As soon as conditions permit a team will be sent back into Haiti without further announcement,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Meanwhile, Haitian police officers on Thursday blocked streets and forced their way into the main airport to protest the recent killing of officers by armed gangs.
Media reports said that protesters in civilian clothes, who identified themselves as police, first attacked Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s official residence and then flooded the airport as Henry was arriving from a trip to Argentina where he attended the seventh summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
Henry, who came to office following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, had urged member countries of CELAC, “especially those who can” help deal with the ongoing socio-economic and political situation in his French-speaking country.
“As you all know, Haiti is going through a period of political turbulence and economic and social difficulty, aggravated by a climate of insecurity fuelled by armed criminal groups. Their behavior is seriously disrupting the lives of peaceful citizens and my government’s efforts to restore democratic institutions,” Henry said.
Henry was temporarily stuck in the airport but returned to his residence in Port-au-Prince followed by police protesters.
But the spokesperson for the National Police of Haiti (PNH) Inspector Garry Desrosiers, said it appears that the police officers killed in Metivier this past weekend had not been dispatched by the police station of Pétion-ville.
He said that the officers acted on their own initiative by deciding to lend assistance to a loved one who was in a difficult situation during the attack carried out by members of the Vitelhomme gang, in Metivier.
Media reports had said that the police patrol had been on its way to the area after reports that one criminal gang was seeking to regain possession of the territories held by the former policeman, Alex Armstrong Dumornay, now a gang leader.
Gangs have killed at least 10 officers in the past week; another is missing and one more has severe bullet wounds, according to the PNH. (CMC)