Haitian politician Eric Jean Baptiste shot dead outside his home, authorities say



CNN

A Haitian politician has been shot dead outside his home, authorities say, as international concerns intensify over gang violence, political unrest and humanitarian crises that have gripped the country.

Eric Jean Baptiste was killed Friday night outside his home in the capital Port-au-Prince, local police told CNN.

He was the leader of the Progressive National Democrats Party (RNDP), a minor political party in Haiti, and launched a long-term presidential bid in 2016.

A security guard was also killed in the attack, the police spokesman said. Baptiste survived a previous attempt on his life in 2018, escaping with a gunshot wound.

The killing is the latest killing in a country overrun by violent gangs and comes a year after the nation’s president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated. Port-au-Prince was the site of brutal gang battles this summer that saw entire neighborhoods torched, displacing thousands of families and trapping others in their homes, afraid to leave even in search of food and water.

The number of Haitians displaced by recent gang-related violence in the capital has tripled in the past five months, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.

The IOM report said more than 113,000 people were internally displaced from Port-au-Prince between June and August this year, with nearly 90,000 due to “urban violence linked to gang conflicts, police and social”.

Criminals still control or influence parts of the country’s most populous city, and kidnappings for ransom threaten residents’ daily movements. In recent weeks, protesters in several cities have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry in the face of high fuel prices, rising inflation and rampant crime.

Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned what he called an “absolutely nightmarish situation” in Haiti with gangs blocking the movement of fuel and other materials at the port of Port-au -Prince. The country is facing a humanitarian crisis, while a cholera outbreak has also left dozens dead.

Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Bochit Edmond, told CNN on Friday that the government will call democratic elections if the international community intervenes with military assistance to the country.

“It is very important that all Haitians work together … and while we receive help from our international partners, we make sure that we prepare to have free and fair democratic elections. Because it is most important … that democratic institutions are stand up again,” said Edmond, who described Haiti as a country “on the brink of collapse.”

“Before we get to the elections, we need to restore law and order. And our own national police cannot… because the gangs are well armed and their firepower is far superior… we need help international,” the diplomat recently told CNN’s Sara Sidner.

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