Haiti To Hold Elections By Mid-2025, Say Caribbean Leaders As Henry Flies To Kenya And Benin Pledges 2000 Troops.

The benin security force of 2000 troops is expected to help restore peace and security and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Haiti Image: AFP/BBC
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Caribbean leaders at the CARICOM summit in Guyana said late Wednesday that Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has agreed to hold general elections by mid-2025 as the international community continues to try to find a foreign security force willing to come in to fight gang violenc there. The US does not want to send its own cops or troops, but is willing to finance other forces.

Members of the Caricom regional trade bloc issued this statement at the end of a four-day summit in Guyana saying Henry agreed there is a need to hold elections and work with the oppositiosaid and civil society groups to achieve that goal.

The statement said that all stakeholders in Haitian society, including Henry, will have to make concessions to allow for elections and the restoration of democracy in an impoverished country that has no elected officials in power.

“Caricom heads expressed their deep concern over the continued deterioration of the security, humanitarian and political situation and the continued delay in overcoming the political stalemate, which have blocked the possibility of free and fair elections,” the statement bloc said.

“Caricom heads underlined the critical and immediate need for a clear political path forward which should be participatory and inclusive.”

Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said in order to achieve the goal, the 15-member regional bloc known as CARICOM, will lead an assessment team supported by the United Nations, the United States, Canada and the Organization of American States to help with election planning in Haiti. The committee is to report back to the community by March 31, he said.

A spokesman for Henry’s office declined to comment. Henry was en route to Kenya after leaving Guyana, officials said.

Earlier this week, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced that Benin will also be contributing 2,000 troops to assist in the multinational security force approved by the UN to curb gang violence in the Caribbean country. Kenya will be leading the process.

She added that the deployment has to be soon with cases of violence increasing in Haiti, where at least 300 gangs control a larger part of the capital and accounted for 83 percent of killings and injuries recorded last year. At least 8,400 people were killed by the gangs in 2023.

“This mission is key to helping the Haitian National Police restore peace and security, enabling free and fair elections, and alleviating the humanitarian crisis,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.

Henry has repeatedly pledged to hold elections ever since being sworn in as prime minister after the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, but he and other officials say gang violence has not allowed them to move forward on those promises.

The situation in Haiti is “truly terrible,” Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis said at the summit’s closing news confeence. “Haiti is hemorrhaging. … We are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of the security situation.”

Members of the regional bloc said they spent more than 25 hours over three days discussing the Haitian crisis, with international partners that included the U.S., Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Brazil and the U.N. joining leaders the 15-member organization.

“We had a frank and in-depth discussions on the situation in Haiti,” Davis said. “We are deeply concerned over the continued deterioration of the security, humanitarian and political situation in Haiti and more importantly we are more concerned over the continued delay in overcoming the political stalemate which has blocked the possibility of free and fair elections.”

Sources: AP News, Miami Herald, MSN, theeastafrican.com
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