PORT-AU-PRINCE- In the aftermath of the shooting death of one of their colleagues, Haitian parliamentarians were on edge and fearful for their own security.
On Monday Dionald Polyte, a deputy from Pestel, was shot by one of his body guards, en route to the capital city after a visit to his district. Polyte is the second public official killed in the past two months
Polyte was traveling to Port-au-Prince with two security officers and a driver when he was fatally shot by his patrolmen, said Sorel Jacinthe, president of the chamber of deputies. Police and a special commission of deputies are conducting investigations into the shooting.
“Rumors are that the security officers were paid to do this,” said Jacinthe in his office as the security chief of Parliament rushed to speak with him. The two reviewed security procedures and protocol to develop better safety measures. The chamber of deputies may make changes when the investigation is complete.
“We’re trying to do the best we can with what we have, but we need to see what happened to do so,” he said. “We may increase security.”
Polyte’s death has created a stronger urge for adjusting personal security as some deputies have become nervous for their safety, said Dorfeuille Gomoltti, a member of the Group of Parliamentarians for Renewal party.
Gomoltti said he was at lunch earlier during the day and constantly thought of the colleague he hardly knew but respected. He’s also concerned about his personal safety.
“That is on my mind everyday now,” he said. “What is next?”
Parliament is planning a special memorial service for Polyte, Jacinthe said. His seat will remain vacant until elections are held this November for his district.
Guiteau Toussaint, chairman of the board of directors for the National Credit Bank was killed in his home in June, national police said. No arrests or charges have been filed in connection to his murder.
Polyte’s death now raises political tension at a time when earthquake recovery should be given priority, Jacinthe said.
Deputies also met with Jacinthe in his makeshift office within parliament. Their voices echoed from his office and into a general waiting area while they exchanged information on firearms and Polyte’s death.
He was returning from his district Pestel where he worked on rebuilding a market to include a larger number of local merchants and securing a new location for a police station. Polyte, who was serving his first term, had the respect of many deputies, said Georges Guy Gerard, deputy of Torbeck and Chantal.
“The man was a fighter, and he loved his people,” he said. Gerard campaigned with Polyte for months with the help of the INITE political party, an associate of GPR, the majority political party.
Polyte was an active community activist in his district before he was elected as a deputy, Gerard said. His political organization was efficient in how he quickly mobilized the youth in his area. He also worked with others to help build community schools and deliver emergency relief aid after floods and the earthquake.
Depas Martial, deputy of Cabaret was with Gomoltti, deputy of Cavaillon and the two walked around the complex. Notices expressing grief and promising a full investigation was taped onto office doors and meeting rooms.
“It’s a painful feeling to see a young, powerful and hardworking man die,” Martial said as he walked by the offices. “It makes me think of myself.”