PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, April 25, CMC – Former members of Haiti’s disbanded army says they have no intention of backing down on their demands that the government appoint them to head an interim force as it contemplates re-establishing the army that was disbanded in 1995.
“We’ve decided that we’re not going to back down. We’re not going to keep doing press conferences,” warned former sergeant Larose Aubin, who was flanked by a mix of ex-soldiers and younger recruits at a news conference at an army barracks late Tuesday.
“We’re telling them that the army must return. Liberty or death. Victory will be for us no matter what,” he added.
During his campaign for office, President Michel Martelly had indicated he would re-establish the army and his government has repeatedly ordered the former soldiers and their followers to vacate the old bases they seized several months ago.
Last week, the former soldiers, some of them armed, disrupted a legislative session when they stormed the building and demanded to speak to lawmakers about the government’s plans for them.
The United Nations’ envoy to Haiti, Mariano Fernandez, called the parliament incident “an unacceptable act of intimidation.”
On Monday, Police Chief Mario Andresol said on radio that the country has only one public security force, the national police department, along with the U.N. peacekeeping mission.
The Interior Ministry said it plans on Wednesday to give back pay to former soldiers who can show proof that they served in the military. The ex-soldiers have long argued they are entitled to US$15 million in lost wages and pensions.