HAITI | Prime Minister Ariel Henry Resigns; "Presidential College" proposed for Haiti; US increases assistance to $233m

HAITI | Prime Minister Ariel Henry Resigns; "Presidential College" proposed for Haiti; US increases assistance to $233m

KINGSTON,  Jamaica, March 11, 2024 - Haiti's embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry has resigned  following weeks of mounting pressure and increasing violence in the country. This is the word from the Chairman of the Caribbean Caribbean Community, Guyana's President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali late Monday night.

The CARICOM Chairman, in a statement  said it was agreed that  Haiti would have a new Transitional Presidential Council which would have seven voting members who make decisions by a majority vote.

Those with votes include the Pitit Desalin party, run by former senator and presidential candidate Moïse Jean-Charles, who is now an ally of Guy Philippe, a former rebel leader who led a successful 2004 coup and was recently released from a United States prison after pleading guilty to money laundering.

Also with a vote is the EDE party of former prime minister Charles Joseph; the Fanmi Lavalas party; the December 21 coalition led by Henry; the Montana Accord group; and members of the private sector

The seven will include representatives of major political parties, the private sector and the Montana Group, a civil society coalition that had proposed an interim government in 2021 after President Jovenel Moise’s assassination.

There will also be two non-voting seats on the council — one for civil society and another for the church.

President of Guyana, H. E. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, outlined the various responsibilities of the newly established Transitional Presidential Council during a press conference held tonight (March 11).

 

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

Dr. Henry is currently in Puerto Rico after he was prevented by armed gangs from returning home by closing the airport.

From left: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, CARICOM chairman and president of Guyana; and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the high-level meeting of heads of government on the polycrisis in Haiti. The meeting was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, JamaicaFrom left: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, CARICOM chairman and president of Guyana; and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the high-level meeting of heads of government on the polycrisis in Haiti. The meeting was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, JamaicaRegional Heads today gathered in Kingston Jamaica  to figure out just how to address the leadership and humanitarian crisis in Haiti.
 A proposal to expedite a political transition” and create a “presidential college,” seemed to have found favour with Caribbean leaders as well as US Secretary of State Antony Blinlen and “all of the Haitian stakeholders.

Blinken said the college would take “concrete steps” he did not identify, to meet the needs of Haitian people and enable the pending deployment of the multinational force to be led by Kenya. 

Blinken also noted that the U.S. Department of Defense would increase its initial US$100M pledge by  an additional $100 million to finance the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti,m as well as another $33 million in humanitarian aid. 

Meanwhile, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the meeting was a work in progress. “It is clear that Haiti is now at a tipping point,” he said. “We are deeply distressed that it is already too late for too many who have lost far too much at the hands of criminal gangs.”

Mia Mottley, Barbados’ prime minister, said that up to 90% of proposals that Haitian stakeholders have put on the table are similar. These include an “urgent need” to create a presidential council to help identify a new prime minister to establish a government.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had beden facing calls for him to resign. He iwas locked out of his own country by the armed gangs when he traveled to Kenya last week to firm up arrangements for the multimational force.

During his absence there was surging unrest and violence by criminal gangs who have overrun much of Haiti’s capital and closed down its main international airports.

Haiti's most powerful gang leader Jimmy Chérizier, who has been calling for Henry's resignation, told reporters  today, that if the international community continues down the current road, “it will plunge Haiti into further chaos.”

“We Haitians have to decide who is going to be the head of the country and what model of government we want,” said Chérizier, a former elite police officer known as Barbecue who leads a gang federation known as G9 Family and Allies. “We are also going to figure out how to get Haiti out of the misery it’s in now.”

According to the Associated Press, while the meeting was being held in Jamaica, "powerful gangs continued to attack key government targets across Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince. Since Feb. 29, gunmen have burned police stations, closed the main international airports and raided the country’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

"Scores of people have been killed, and more than 15,000 are homeless after fleeing neighborhoods raided by gangs. Food and water are dwindling as stands and stores selling to impoverished Haitians run out of goods. The main port in Port-au-Prince remains closed, stranding dozens of containers with critical supplies.

"Late Monday, the Haitian government announced it was extending a nighttime curfew until March 14 in an attempt to prevent further attacks.

"Henry could not be immediately reached for comment after Monday’s meeting. He landed in Puerto Rico last week after being denied entry into the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

"When the attacks began, Henry was in Kenya pushing for the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from the East African country that has been delayed by a court ruling.

"A growing number of people are demanding Henry’s resignation. He has not made any public comment since the attacks began.

The U.N. Security Council on Monday urged Haiti’s gangs “to immediately cease their destabilizing actions,” including sexual violence and the recruitment of children, and said it expects that a multinational force will deploy as soon as possible to help end the violence.

Council members expressed concern at the limited political progress and urged all political actors to allow free and fair legislative and presidential elections.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for the urgent deployment of the multinational force and that the mission be adequately funded, said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Currently, funding is at only $10.8 million, with officials in Kenya demanding more than $230 million.

 


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