Deactivated Military: Martelly Must Be Careful

The Martelly administration needs to be very careful in the way it plans to deal with the armed deactivated military personnel illegally occupying the installations of the old Haitian military disbanded by former President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 1995.

This issue is like a ticking bomb, which, if not addressed properly, meaning if not addressed with tact and finesse, will go off and cause serious and irredeemable political drawbacks.

These guys are acting like a bunch of armed thugs with no sense of military discipline and respect for their Commander-in-chief. If they are really what they claim to be -disbanded military personnel -the fact that they could disobey the orders of the president to put down their weapons and evacuate the military bases, they technically enter in rebellion. For that, they should be dealt with by any means necessary, regardless if that means utilization of the use of force. That would be ideal, but for the sake of politics, it would not be the best course of action.

The orders issued by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security calling on the national police and MINUSTAH to go after these guys to disarm and force them to empty the sites they occupy will be like the spike needed to explode the bomb.

Using force in this situation is not warranted as it is not going to politically play in President Martelly’s best interest. It will quickly escalate into a political quagmire to be exploited by the president’s political opponents. In other words, bringing MINUSTAH in this affair will be politically disastrous for President Martelly as his political opponents will quickly jump on the bandwagon and start beating their drums of nationalism politics.

My advice to President Martelly is to create a multidimensional/multisectorial commission to sit down with these guys to come up with an agreement on a timetable to satisfy their claims, have them put down their weapons and evacuate the premises.

That is the most politically sensed approach to defuse this bomb and avoid a bloodbath in the country, which could politically weaken the president. I hope I do make sense and somebody with the power to influence the decision-making apparatus in Port-au-Prince could listen.