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Haitian politician shot dead, as violent gangs and political turmoil push country to the ‘fringe of collapse’

The content originally appeared on: CNN

A Haitian politician has been shot dead outside his home, authorities have said, as international concerns intensify over the gang violence, political turmoil and humanitarian crises which have seized control of the country.

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

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

A security guard was also killed within the attack, the police spokesperson said. Baptiste survived an earlier attempt on his life in 2018, escaping with a bullet wound.

The assassination is the newest killing in a rustic overtaken by violent gangs, and comes a 12 months after the nation’s serving President Jovenel Moise was murdered. Port-au-Prince was the location of brutal gang battles this summer that saw whole neighborhoods set aflame, displacing 1000’s of families and trapping others of their homes, afraid to depart even searching for food and water.

The variety of Haitians displaced by recent gang-related violence within the capital has tripled up to now five months, the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.

The IOM report said greater than 113,000 people were internally displaced from Port-au-Prince between June and August this 12 months, with nearly 90,000 of them attributable to “urban violence linked to inter-gang, gang-police, and social conflicts.”

Criminals still control or influence parts of the country’s most populous city, and kidnappings for ransom threaten residents’ day-to-day movements. In recent weeks, demonstrators in several cities called for Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation within the face of high fuel prices, soaring inflation and unchecked crime.

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

Haiti’s Ambassador to the US Bocchit Edmond told CNN Friday that the federal government will call democratic elections if the international community intervenes with military assistance within the country.

“It’s very essential for all Haitians to work together… and while we’re getting help from our international partners, that we ensure to arrange to have free and fair democratic elections. Since it is a very powerful thing… to have democratic institutions rise up again,” Edmond said, describing Haiti as a rustic “on the sting of collapse.”

“Before attending to elections, we want to revive law and order. And our national police itself cannot… since the gangs are well armed and their firepower is way more superior… we want international assistance,” the diplomat recently told CNN’s Sara Sidner.

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