four questions on the political situation in the country after the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry

The Haitian head of government will leave power once a transition council is put in place, the Caribbean Community announced.


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Resigned Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, during a visit to Nairobi (Kenya), March 1, 2024. (SIMON MAINA / AFP)

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned Monday March 11, announced the president of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and President of Guyana Mohamed Irfaan Ali. Port-au-Prince has been sinking for several weeks into violence linked to gangs which have taken control of a large part of the capital.

The Caribbean countries met urgently on Monday in Kingston (Jamaica), at the initiative of Caricom, with representatives of the UN and several countries, including France and the United States, in order to find a solution in Haiti. Franceinfo takes stock of the political and security crisis shaking the country.

1What is happening in Haiti?

Port-au-Prince, the capital, has been plagued by violence since the end of February. Militias attack strategic sites such as the presidential palace, police stations and prisons. In the Haitian capital, administrations and schools are closed due to violence between police and armed gangs, which intensified during the weekend of March 9. Hospitals were stormed by militias and medical teams had to flee with patients – including newborns – according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Since February 29, more than 160,000 civilians have been displaced in the Port-au-Prince region, according to IOM

The Haitian authorities declared a state of emergency a week ago, accompanied by a curfew, in the West department, which includes the capital, but they do not fully control this territory. This curfew was extended on Monday until March 14. Haitian security forces were able to regain control of the port of Port-au-Prince after clashes with gangs over the weekend, the director of the National Port Authority said Monday. The security situation pushed the European Union to evacuate all of its staff from Port-au-Prince on Monday, the mission on site announced. The day before, the German diplomatic mission had made a similar decision. The United States, for its part, evacuated its non-essential diplomatic personnel during the night from Saturday to Sunday, the American embassy said.

2Why did the Prime Minister resign?

The departure of Prime Minister Ariel Henry was one of the main objectives of the armed groups. Without a president or Parliament – ​​the last head of state, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in 2021 – Haiti has not had an election since 2016. Ariel Henry, accused by the Port-au-Prince prosecutor’s office of the murder of Jovenel Moïse, should have left office at the beginning of February. On February 28, he agreed to “share power” with the opposition, as part of an agreement providing for elections within a year. But this concession was not enough: Jimmy Chérizier, influential gang leader nicknamed “Barbecue”, had threatened on Tuesday March 5 with a “civil war which will lead to genocide” if Ariel Henry remained in power.

The head of the Haitian government, blocked in the United States territory of Puerto Rico, finally gave in to pressure from regional partners. His departure was announced during an emergency meeting of Caricom members and UN representatives in Jamaica. “The government that I lead cannot remain insensitive to this situation. As I have always said, no sacrifice is too great for our homeland, Haiti”said Ariel Henry.

3What are the prospects opened up by this resignation?

Following the announcement of Ariel Henry’s resignation, Guyana and Caricom President Mohamed Irfaan Ali said he “happy” to announce “a transitional governance agreement paving the way for a peaceful transition of power”. According to him, this outcome should lead to “a short-term security action plan” And “free and fair elections”.

A “presidential transition council” will be put in place, announced Ariel Henry, reports the Haitian newspaper The Nouvelliste. The members of this council will be chosen after an agreement between the different sectors of national life.added the resigning Prime Minister.

4What is the reaction of the international community?

On Monday, the UN Security Council called on all Haitian political actors to “serious negotiations” For “restore democratic institutions” from the country. “Haitians cannot wait any longer for a path to security, stability and democracy.”underlined Tuesday the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on X.

“Only the Haitian people can and must determine their own future, and no one else”, explained the head of American diplomacy after the meeting. The United States and its partners can, however, “help restore fundamental security” and to face “enormous suffering” in Haiti, he added.

He announced that the United States would provide an additional 133 million dollars (around 122 million euros) to resolve the crisis, including 100 million for the multinational force to be sent to Haiti, and 33 million in humanitarian aid. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, present virtually during the discussions, had shortly before offered some 91 million dollars (around 83 million euros).

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