Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry Resigns Amidst Political Turmoil and Gang Violence

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has announced his resignation following mounting pressure and widespread violence. The decision was revealed during an emergency meeting of Caribbean leaders in Jamaica, seeking a political transition to address the turmoil in the impoverished nation.

Henry, currently stranded in Puerto Rico due to threats from armed gangs preventing his return, acknowledged the need for a transitional council before dissolving his government. The announcement came in the wake of a week marked by “systematic looting and destruction” of public and private properties.

The embattled prime minister, addressing the nation through a Facebook post, expressed sorrow over the situation, stating, “It hurts us. And it has revolted us.” He called for calm, emphasizing Haiti’s urgent need for peace, stability, and sustainable development, highlighting the necessity to rebuild democratic institutions.

The tumultuous events in Haiti have unfolded against a backdrop of gang violence, attacks on government structures, and social disorder. Henry’s government faced criticism for its perceived inability to address the deteriorating security situation, with gangs controlling significant portions of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The political transition plan involves the establishment of a transitional council, paving the way for elections and continuity of governance. During the emergency summit in Jamaica, Caribbean leaders, along with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, discussed a joint proposal aimed at stabilizing Haiti.

The proposed transitional council, comprising seven voting members and two nonvoting ones, aims to include representatives from various coalitions, the private sector, civil society, and a religious leader. The council’s responsibilities include appointing an interim prime minister swiftly, ensuring the security mission’s deployment, and creating conditions for free and fair elections.

The situation in Haiti has been exacerbated by the recent spate of violence, including prison breaks, attacks on government institutions, and a state of emergency. Gangs, led by figures like Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, have intensified their actions, demanding Henry’s resignation and warning of civil war and genocide if he refuses.

International efforts, including a proposed United Nations-backed force led by Kenya, seek to address the security crisis and provide humanitarian assistance. The U.S. has pledged additional financial support, with Blinken committing $100 million for the multinational security mission and $33 million in humanitarian aid.

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