PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Friday July 14, 2017 – With just over three months to go before the United Nations mission ends its tour of duty in Haiti, the Jovenel Moise administration has officially launched a recruitment drive to rebuild an army.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Defence called for 500 men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 who have passed their secondary education exams to apply for posts.
According to the statement, those selected will help to patrol the nation’s borders to stop smuggling and assist with the management of natural disasters.
Defence Minister Herve Denis told AFP the new army will also wage a war on terrorists, even as he admitted that there was no major threat facing the French-speaking Caribbean country.
The move to rebuild the army has, however, been met with strong criticism in some quarters.
Some warn that a military force could quickly become a weapon in the hands of the country’s leaders, an obvious reference to long standing allegations that the Haitian soldiers and paramilitary forces committed countless atrocities and are estimated to have killed thousands of people.
However, Denis suggested that Haiti was more focused on building what he called a “defence and security force.”
“I want people to understand that it’s a new kind of institution that we want to create; one which is with the country in its quest towards development,” he said.
Haiti’s armed forces were dissolved in 1995 by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
This is not the first time the idea of re-mobilizing Haiti’s army to replace departing UN troops has surfaced. Former President Michel Martelly promoted the idea during his 2010 presidential bid. And while he never managed to get the 3,500 troops he promised, he did use his executive powers in October 2015 to re-mobilize the disbanded Forces Armées d’Haiti with a handful of members.