By Rob Picheta, CNN
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 that have seized control of the country.
Eric Jean Baptiste was killed on Friday night outside his home in 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 in 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 latest killing in a country overtaken by violent gangs, and comes a year after the nation’s serving President Jovenel Moise was murdered. Port-au-Prince was the site of brutal gang battles this summer that saw whole neighborhoods set aflame, 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 of them due to “urban violence linked to inter-gang, gang-police, and social conflicts.”
The most populous city in the nation is still under the control or influence of criminals, and kidnappings for ransom pose a threat to residents’ daily movements. In recent weeks, protesters in several cities demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry in response to skyrocketing inflation, high fuel prices, and unchecked crime.
At the beginning of this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced the “absolutely nightmare situation” in Haiti, where gangs were impeding the flow of supplies into the Port-au-Prince harbor. The nation is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, and a cholera outbreak has claimed dozens of lives.
Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the US, stated on CNN on Friday that if foreign forces intervene militarily in the nation, the government will call for democratic elections.
“It’s crucial that all Haitians collaborate… and that, even as we receive assistance from our international partners, we make sure to get ready for free and fair democratic elections. “Having democratic institutions stand up again is the most important thing,” Edmond said, referring to Haiti as a nation “on the verge of collapse.”
“We must reestablish law and order before the elections. And our national police cannot do it on their own because the gangs are well-armed and have far greater firepower. In a recent interview with CNN’s Sara Sidner, the diplomat said, “We need international assistance.
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