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Haiti's embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry says he will resign

Henry says he will officially leave office once a transitional presidential council is established and a new interim prime minister is appointed.
Haiti's embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry says he will resign
Posted at 1:32 PM, Mar 12, 2024

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced that he plans to step down as the leader of the beleaguered nation, which is facing mounting violence as armed gangs fight it out in the capital of Port-au-Prince. 

At the moment, no one is running the country, leaving politicians across Haiti scrambling for power as there has been a complete breakdown of civil society in the region. 

Police and the Haitian army have been unable to maintain control of the capital, which is why the prime minister went to Kenya last week to ask that country to send 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti to help quell the violence.

Henry says he will officially leave once those peacekeepers are in place and once a transitional group of Haitian stakeholders appoints a new interim prime minister.

This was something negotiated at a meeting this week in Jamaica with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and representatives from several Caribbean nations.

The U.S. State Department says that members of that transitional group will likely be appointed within the next 24 to 48 hours. All of that could potentially pave the way for new elections in the region, but how soon that could happen isn't clear.

SEE MORE: US officials announce new aid to address surging violence in Haiti

The armed gangs in Haiti want Henry out of office, but at the same time, they are also rejecting the transitional group and the appointment of an interim prime minister.

 "So, I'm not surprised that gang leaders are rejecting this agreement because it's the gang leaders that thrive on the chaos that we have seen unfurl in Haiti over the past few weeks. But it is ultimately up to the Haitian people to determine the future government of Haiti — not to violent gang members, not to criminals," said U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Furthermore, the United Nations estimates that half of Haiti's 11 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, as food is hard to come by in the region right now.

The World Food Programme is warning of mass hunger in the region that could lead to even more unrest unless something is done to help.

"Still today, we have 4 million people in Haiti who are acutely food-insecure —1 million of which are one step away from famine. What's going on over the past few days has me very worried, and I am ringing the alarm bell because you have this baseline level of hunger that is already very high, and this is worsening things even more," said Jean-Martin Bauer of the World Food Programme.

Haiti is the hemisphere's poorest nation, and it has been that way for decades.

While corruption has been an ongoing problem, the country also suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010, which killed 220, 000 people. More recently, in 2021, Haiti's president was assassinated. Subsequent political instability has accelerated the breakdown now seen in the region.

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