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Haiti’s PM to resign to make room for Transitional Council

Haiti’s prime minister Ariel Henry says he will resign once a Transitional Presidential Council is in place to help stabilise the country, which has been on the brink of civil unrest . 

His announcement follows an emergency meeting with Caribbean regional leaders – CARICOM – and the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken. CARICOM leaders agreed to implement this Council and name an interim prime minister. The Council will have two observers and seven voting members including representatives from several coalitions: the private sector, civil society and one religious leader. They will have presidential powers to sign decrees, designate ministers and facilitate governance and security in the country.

The Council is expected to appoint the transitional council before elections are held in Haiti. Haiti does not have a president or parliament and has not held an election for eight years.

Shortly after Henry announced his resignation late Monday night, Kenyan forces announced that they would pause their peace keeping mission to Haiti. But the US says Kenya’s deployment should go ahead while Haiti waits for the implementation of the council. Meanwhile, the United States government has pledged an additional $100 million to support an international stabilization force there.

By all accounts, it was expected that Henry, who sought refuge in Puerto Rico, would resign. Gang leaders had called for his resignation, threatening civil unrest if he did not. 

Henry was supported by the US and other international actors when he took office in 2021  largely based on a promise to hold elections and bring normalcy to Haiti. Instead, gangs gained wealth and strengthened their position over Port-au-Prince.Gangs who have taken over the majority of the capital city in Haiti launched attacks on critical infrastructure like airports and prisons. 

Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of residents have been displaced and are struggling to find food, water and medicine in some situations. The World Food Programme says the country only has enough food to last a few more weeks as the main port in Haiti remains closed due to gang violence. Jean-Martin Bauer says four million residents are staring at “acute food insecurity” and one million are close to starvation.

CARICOM vs Haiti’s Gang Leaders

What leaders in CARICOM have outlined as measures to stablise Haiti differs from what powerful gang leaders in the country are proposing. For example, while the CARICOM declaration states that the proposed Transitional Presidential Council cannot include anyone who is currently on a charge, indictment or has been convicted in any jurisdiction; anyone who is under UN Sanction; anyone who intends to run in the next election in Haiti; or anyone who opposes the UN Security Council (UN SC) Resolution, gang leaders who fit this criterion want a seat at the table.  
The main gangs are calling for a “troika” – a government composed of three members picked by them to include a judge and a former coup leader Guy Phillipe who was imprisoned in the United States on drug related charges. They are also asking for amnesty for gang leaders as part of the stabilization measures.

READ FULL CARICOM DECLARATION HERE: https://caricom.org/outcome-declaration-of-caricom-international-partners-and-haitian-stakeholders/?fbclid=IwAR1O5leZPbMwqwqUMmExMdgEPiH5XJ_HC_ENIeau7z7vUfyb_s0VI29nrk0

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