Canada sanctions former Haitian leaders, announces aid

(FILES) Former Haitian President Michel Martelly casts his ballot at a polling station at the Lycee National in the Petion Ville suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 20, 2016 during the presidential and legislative elections. – Haitians go to the polls Sunday to elect a president and lawmakers, in hopes of restoring the country to constitutional order after more than a year of political crisis. Nearly 6.2 million voters are eligible to cast their ballots to choose among a vast field of 27 presidential candidates. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP)

DJERBATunisia (AFP) – Canada on Sunday said it would impose sanctions against former Haitian president Michel Martelly and two ex-prime ministers accused of profiting from armed gangs, and announced a new aid package for the country.

The men in question “directly benefit from the work of the gangs and are associated with a system of corruption”, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly told journalists during a conference in Tunisia.

The sanctions, which will freeze any assets the men may have in Canada, target former Haitian premiers Laurent Lamothe and Jean Henry Ceant as well as Martelly.

Canada imposed similar sanctions earlier this month against other high-ranking officials over alleged links to organized crime.

Ottowa also Sunday announced aid worth 16.5 million Canadian dollars ($12.3 million) to help the country battle corruption and a cholera outbreak.

The aid is “necessary to provide water, food and health assistance to fight cholera,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Haiti, the poorest country in North America, has been mired for years in an economic, security and political crisis made worse by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last year and the growing influence of gangs.

A previous cholera outbreak killed over 10,000 people.