Haiti’s Prime Minister Henry Announces Resignation Amid Escalating Chaos and Gang Violence

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Haiti’s combative Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, announced his resignation yesterday March 12, 2024, following weeks of escalating chaos in the country. Gangs have been launching attacks on government structures, causing social order to crumble.

In a video message, Prime Minister Henry expressed the urgent need for peace and stability in the Caribbean nation. He stated that his government would step down once a transitional council is established.

“Haiti needs peace. Haiti needs stability. My government will leave immediately after the inauguration of the council. We will act as a caretaker government until a new prime minister and cabinet are named,” announced Henry.

However, Henry’s adviser, Jean Junior Joseph, later informed the press that the Prime Minister would remain in his position until the formation of a new interim government.

During a news conference in Jamaica, Guyana’s leader and Chairman of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), Mohamed Ali Irfaan, along with other Caribbean leaders, revealed that they have agreed to establish a transitional council to pave the way for elections in Haiti.

“We are pleased to announce the commitment to a transitional governance arrangement, which ensures a peaceful transition of power, continuity in governance, and an action plan for near-term security. It aims to establish the rule of law within Haiti,” stated Irfaan.

Unfortunately, Henry was unable to return to Haiti from Kenya last week after signing an agreement to send 1,000 Kenyan police officers to help restore security in the country. The situation in and around Port-au-Prince, the capital, deteriorated rapidly, preventing his return. In light of Henry’s resignation announcement, Kenya has halted the deployment of its troops.

Initially, the Prime Minister had intended to travel through the neighboring Dominican Republic, but his plans were thwarted as the government denied permission for his plane to land. He is currently residing in Puerto Rico.

Haiti has been in a state of emergency since gang groups attacked the country’s largest prison in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. The attack resulted in the death and injury of police and prison staff, allowing approximately 3,500 inmates to escape. Gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, also known as Barbecue, claimed responsibility for the attack and asserted that it was an attempt to overthrow Henry’s government.

According to the United Nations, gang control has expanded to cover 80% of Port-au-Prince, with ongoing clashes to gain control over the remaining areas.

The prevailing chaos has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, intensifying the already dire situation for the more than 300,000 individuals displaced by gang violence.

Haiti has long grappled with chronic violence, political crises, and drought. As a result, approximately 5.5 million Haitians, roughly half the population, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Prime Minister Henry, who assumed power in 2021 following the assassination of Haiti’s former president, failed to hold elections in 2023, citing the country’s insecurity as a major obstacle. However, his decision enraged protesters who had been demanding his resignation for months as Haiti sank deeper into poverty and rampant gang violence.

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