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Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned amid rising challenges


Ariel Henry, the prime minister of Haiti, has decided to step down after facing mounting challenges in the Caribbean nation. Gangs have been attacking government facilities, posing a threat to social stability.


Ariel Henry announced in a late-night video on Monday that his government would resign after the establishment of a transitional council, emphasising the importance of peace for Haiti. Haiti requires stability.


"The government will step down once the council is sworn in. Henry announced that the caretaker government would remain in place until a prime minister and a new cabinet were appointed.


Henry will remain in his current role until a new interim administration is established, as confirmed by his advisor Jean Junior Joseph.


At the Monday meeting in Jamaica, the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) revealed the establishment of a transitional council to prepare for elections in Haiti.


We are pleased to announce our dedication to a transitional governance framework that ensures a seamless transfer of power, continued governance, a strategy for immediate security, and the organisation of free and fair elections. Irfaan Ali, the chairman of CARICOM and the leader of Guyana emphasised during a press conference the importance of ensuring that Haiti will be governed by the rule of law, alongside other Caribbean leaders.


Henry travelled to Kenya to finalise an agreement to send 1,000 Kenyan police officers to the Caribbean nation to address the security crisis that escalated during the recent outbreak of violence.


Due to the deteriorating security situation around the airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, he was unable to travel back to Haiti. Following the Dominican Republic's government decision to deny landing permission for his plane, the travel plan through that country was cancelled. For the past week, he's been in Puerto Rico, which is a US territory.


Following the CARICOM meeting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that the US plans to contribute $300 million to the multinational security mission led by Kenya and $33 million for "humanitarian assistance for the people of Haiti."


Kenya has decided to stop sending police officers to Haiti following Henry's resignation and the reported breakdown of law and order, according to a Kenyan spokesperson speaking to CNN.


The United States urged Henry to engage in negotiations for a settlement, but the decision on who will step in is still pending. Guy Philippe, a rebel leader recently deported to Haiti from the US after serving a prison sentence for money laundering, is one name that has been mentioned.


Henry, who assumed office in 2021 following the assassination of Haiti's president, declined to conduct elections in 2018 due to concerns about the nation's instability affecting voter integrity. Amid Haiti's worsening poverty and escalating gang violence, protesters have been demanding his resignation for several months. His choice had further angered them.


Following a series of well-coordinated gang attacks on state institutions and law enforcement, tens of thousands of individuals have been compelled to evacuate Port-au-Prince since Henry's trip to Kenya.


There has been turmoil in the nation's capital after groups assaulted Port-au-Prince, Haiti's largest prison, earlier this month. This resulted in casualties among police and prison personnel, and approximately 3,500 inmates managed to flee. Consequently, the government has announced a state of emergency.


Jimmy "Barbecue" Cherizier, a gang leader, took credit for the attack and stated that the jailbreak was an effort to overthrow Henry's government.


Last week, Cherizier warned Reuters in Port-au-Prince that failure to remove Ariel Henry and continued international support would result in a civil war leading to genocide.


As per UN estimates, the majority of Haiti's capital is under the control of gangs who are still fighting for the rest. While Henry was away, gangs took over the country's main airport to stop his return. Jocelin Villier, the CEO of the National Port Authority, reported that looters and protestors had also gained access to the crucial Caribbean Port Services terminal in Port-au-Prince. Nevertheless, the terminal is currently under the control of Haitian security forces.


Another wave of individuals has been forced to flee their residences because of the turmoil, pushing the overall count of individuals displaced by criminal activity to exceed 300,000.


Despite the recent deterioration in the country's security situation, Haiti has a history of grappling with political unrest, drought, and persistent violence, resulting in 5.5 million people, approximately half of the population, requiring humanitarian assistance.


UN estimates suggest that one million Haitian children do not attend school, leaving those in gang-controlled areas susceptible to recruitment. In 2022, a cholera outbreak has caused significant devastation to the nation.


Volker Türk, the UN's human rights commissioner, suggested the need for a multinational security mission to assist the Haitian police and described the current situation in Haiti as unsustainable. "There is no viable alternative to protect lives," he stated.

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