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Haiti: after the quake, the political aftershock

brussels bureau

Haiti: after the quake, the political aftershock


As the rescue mission in Haiti starts to wind down and the aid effort begins to find its feet, thoughts are now turning to rebuilding the country both physically and politically.

When the dust eventually settles, who will be in charge of putting Haiti back together?

Going by the EU’s top aid official, the Haitian government is in no fit state to do it alone. Humanitarian Aid commissioner Karel de Gucht said:

“We’ve seen the President, the Prime Minister, the ministers. They’re all together in a police station. That’s what is left of their ministries. That’s what is left of the state structure.

“So the European Commission has decided of course in the first instance to give humanitarian aid but then we will try to, as soon as possible, to contribute so that the State can function again, that the State can again take up its authority within Haiti.

“This is not simply a disaster that we have to remedy, it’s also a state that we have to rebuild.”

Pictures of US marines landing helicopters outside the ruins of the presidential palace prompted some accusations of a US take-over of the country.

The European Union on the other hand has been criticised from within for keeping too low a profile and contenting itself with signing aid cheques.

Haitian president René Préval has promised to take back control of his country but his near invisibility since the quake struck has fed rumours on the streets that his rule is over.

Such are the politics of tragedy.

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brussels bureau