April 24, 2024

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Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigns amid political turmoil

Ariel Henry, the Prime Minister of Haiti, has stepped down from his role as the nation’s leader, according to an announcement made by the chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Guyanese President Irfaan Ali. Henry, a 74-year-old neurosurgeon, assumed the unelected position following the assassination of Haiti’s previous president in 2021.

Henry’s resignation follows a period of heightened violence in Port-au-Prince, the capital city, during his recent trip to Kenya to secure international support for policing efforts against armed gangs. President Ali revealed that a transitional presidential council would oversee the interim governance, consisting of two observers and seven voting members representing various sectors of Haitian society.

The council’s primary task is to promptly appoint an interim prime minister while barring any potential election candidates from participating. The announcement of Henry’s resignation coincided with regional discussions in Jamaica to establish a political transition framework, responding to the urgent calls for stability as armed groups attempted to destabilise the government.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the need for urgent political and security measures, advocating for the establishment of an inclusive and independent presidential college. Blinken also pledged additional financial support, with the United States committing $100 million to bolster the international force combating gang violence, along with $33 million in humanitarian aid.

Despite the financial pledges, the actual disbursement remains uncertain, with less than $11 million currently deposited in the UN’s dedicated trust fund. Mexico also expressed its commitment to support Haiti financially, emphasising the need to curtail arms trafficking and exacerbating the crisis.

The United Nations estimates that over 362,000 Haitians have been internally displaced, with widespread reports of violence, including rape, torture, and ransom kidnappings. The ongoing turmoil underscores the urgent need for coordinated efforts to restore stability and address the humanitarian crisis plaguing Haiti.