On Saturday, November 18th, we posted a few images of the official relaunch of the armed forces of Haiti in Cap-Haitien on our social media pages. The Haitian National Army was formally reintroduced with a parade featuring dozens of camouflaged soldiers on the 214th anniversary of the 1803 Battle of Vertières that secured Haiti’s independence from France.
Haiti has been without military forces since 1995, when former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide disbanded the army after returning to power following a coup, leaving the national police responsible for security, that force now has roughly 15,000 officers.
The army’s comeback has been a divisive topic in the country, but President Jovenel Moise vowed that the new military would be different. At a recent news conference, President Moïse says, “the army I am reinstating for you is a professional one. It is a necessity for our country. It will not be an army of repression, It will be instead an army that will help out when a hurricane strikes our country. It will help repair roads. This is the army I have promised you.”
On Thursday, President Moise named former army colonel Jodel Lesage as acting commander-in-chief, moving troops closer to full operation, the appointment still needs to be approved by Haiti’s senate.
The army has at least 150 recruits, young men and women mostly engaged in building up the country’s infrastructure, Defense Minister Hervé Denis said at news conference. The army will begin with 500 soldiers in engineering, medical and aviation corps, but is still working to fill its ranks. Denis said the government plans to ultimately expand to 5,000 troops working to protect Haitian borders, fight terrorism, curb illegal trade and aid Haitians affected by natural disasters.