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May is expected to be an important month to turn things around in Haiti

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Two months after gangs in Haiti orchestrated a coup that took control of the capital, the country may finally be starting to stabilize.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A council is supposed to choose a new leader, and then that council is supposed to help establish a new transitional government. A multinational force led by Kenya plans to deploy in the country as early as the next couple of weeks.

FADEL: NPR's Eyder Peralta is in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Hi, Eyder.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So you're there in Port-au-Prince, where you've been reporting on the air that criminal gangs still control much of the capital. The airport is still closed after nearly two months of fighting. I mean, what's the city like?

PERALTA: You know, I've been here before, but this time, it feels a little eerie - I think surreal, even - and I'll tell you why. You make your way across town, and it feels pretty normal. Stores are open, street vendors are out in full force, there's traffic and there are people going to work and kids going to school, but then you see signs that things are not normal - burnt-out cars are being used to barricade the streets, and on Wednesday, I saw two bodies just thrown in the middle of two different streets.

FADEL: Wow.

PERALTA: One of them, we don't know how they died, and the other was an older lady. A doctor told us that she came from outside Port-au-Prince, that she died of natural causes and that her body ended up on the streets. The local morgue here was burnt down by gangs, so the doctor said that it's possible that people just didn't know what to do with her body.

FADEL: Wow.

PERALTA: And this is daily life here in Port-au-Prince. It's a place where the government has collapsed, where the gangs control most of this city and where everyone is scared that they could be the next one on the side of the road.

FADEL: Wow. I mean, and you're seeing these signs of collapse everywhere. What are people telling you?

PERALTA: There's a lot of talk about politics, whether this new transitional government will be able to bring peace, whether it can bring elections, and everyone is talking about this multinational force that is supposed to deploy in the next few weeks. I was at a big plaza just opposite the presidential palace. Jerome Nadel was arguing against foreign troops. International missions, he said, have brought nothing but trouble in the past, and he was saying that the independence hero Jean-Jacques Dessalines would be rolling over in his grave at this moment. Let's listen.

JEROME NADEL: (Non-English language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETER: He said the spirits from Jean-Jacques Dessalines will not any foreign troops to come.

JEAN ADDIGEAN: (Non-English language spoken).

JEAN ADDIGEAN: (Non-English language spoken).

PERALTA: And what you're hearing there is a verbal tussle between these men. Jean Addigean interrupts there, and he says, just send us well-armed men. He told me that he had to leave his home because of the violence. His family is outside the city, and at this point, he wants to go back home. He doesn't care about sovereignty. He said he just wants peace at any cost.

FADEL: So a lot riding on this transitional government. What's the latest with that?

PERALTA: Well, they had made some progress earlier this month. A bare majority of them, four out of seven, had named a president of the council and a transitional prime minister, and they got huge blowback. These four members were accused of not even trying to find a broad consensus, and they were accused of just trying to take power, so they walked both of these decisions back. The council is now going to be ruled by a rotating presidency, but those details are still being worked out, and that puts us pretty much at square one.

FADEL: NPR's Eyder Peralta. Thank you, Eyder.

PERALTA: Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.