Haiti’s Prime Minister Resigns To Be Replaced By 7-Person Transitional Council.

Photo: Reuters. Ariel Henry announced on video that he is resigning as PM of Haiti. Mr. Henry is believed to be currently in Puerto RIco.
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Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry has agreed to resign following weeks of mounting pressure and increasing violence in the impoverished country on the western side of the large island of Hispaniola.

It comes after regional leaders met in Jamaica on Monday to discuss a political transition in Haiti.

Mr Henry is currently stranded in Puerto Rico after being prevented by armed gangs from returning home, but was able to communicate with the CARICOM crisis summit in Jamaica by video.

In a video address announcing his resignation, Mr Henry urged Haitians to remain calm.

“The government that I am leading will resign immediately after the installation of [a transition] council,” Mr Henry said.

Mr Henry, who had led the country supposedly on an interim basis since July 2021 following former President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, had repeatedly postponed elections, saying security must be restored first.

Many Haitians had questioned him governing the country for this long without an elected president.

Heavily armed gangs have tightened their grip on the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince, and attacked the main prison to help thousands of inmates escape.

They also demanded the resignation of the unelected prime minister.

The capital Port-au-Prince and the surrounding region is under a month-long state of emergency, while a curfew has been extended.

Matthias Pierre, a former elections minister in Haiti, broke the news of Mr Henry’s resignation to the BBC’s Newsday programme before it was confirmed publicly.

He described the current situation in the country as “very precarious”.

“The police force is weak, and more than 40 police stations [are] destroyed. The army is very limited and not equipped; gang members occupy most of the [Port-au-Prince] downtown and some government headquarters.

“Very soon people will be out of food, medication and… medical support.”

Mr Pierre said the gangs were now pushing to be part of any new power-sharing deal, adding that such a political settlement was impossible without the “support” of an international armed force.

President Irfaan Ali of Guyana made the first public announcement late Monday in the Jamaican capital Kingston, where leaders of the regional body Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, have been meeting to discuss the crisis in Haiti. Ali holds the rotating chair of CARICOM.

CARICOM issued a statement saying the transitional council will be made up of seven members, six of them representing various Haitian political coalitions and the seventh a representative from the private sector, plus two non-voting members from civil society. The transitional council will select the new prime minister and begin the process to hold the next presidential elections.

“Haitians deserve a country where children can go to school and their parents know they will be safe,” the statement said. “We commend the willingness and courage of Haitian stakeholders to commit to put Haiti back on a path toward democracy, stability, and prosperity.”

Mr Henry had been in Kenya to sign a deal on the deployment of an international security force to help tackle violence when a coalition of gangs attacked police stations and stormed two of Haiti’s largest prisons.

A plane carrying Mr Henry was stopped from landing following sustained attacks at Haiti’s international airport.

His resignation has been expected for several days. The Caricom group of Caribbean nations had made its position clear that he was seen as an impediment to Haiti’s stability and that he would have to stand down so the move to a transitional council could begin.

The White House had initially wanted to see Mr Henry return to Haiti to oversee the transitional process, but the ferocity of fighting in the country changed minds in Washington in recent days.

Without the support of either the US state department or his neighbours, it was clear that Mr Henry had no alternative but to stand down.

Mr Henry has expressed a wish to return to Haiti but the security situation has to improve before he is able to do so, according to the US which was at the talks in Kingston on Monday.

A senior US official said Mr Henry had first made the decision to step down on Friday but he had waited for an official announcement so talks could take place.

Henry, a neurosurgeon by profession, has served as acting prime minister since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise plunged the Caribbean nation into chaos. He was scheduled to step down in February, but delayed elections due the worsening security situation and a political stalemate with opposition forces.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken committed a further $100m (£78m) to the 1,000-strong UN-backed security force Kenya is expected to lead in Haiti.

The proposed US contribution to the security force now stands at $300m following Mr Blinken’s announcement, with a further $33m allocated for humanitarian aid.

Speaking following the meeting, chairman of the Caricom group and Guyana President Irfaan Ali said: “We acknowledge his resignation upon the establishment of a transitional presidential council and naming of an interim prime minister.”

President Ali said the transitional presidential council would have two observers and seven voting members, including representatives from several coalitions, the private sector and civil society, and one religious leader. It is not yet clear who these people will be, or whether they will include leaders of gangs or armed militias.

The council has been mandated to “swiftly” appoint an interim prime minister, he said, adding that anyone intending to run in Haiti’s next elections will not be able to participate.

It is hoped the council will pave the way for the first elections for public offices  in Haiti since 2016.

Source: BBC.
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