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Haiti’s PM Ariel Henry resigns as law and order collapse

Haiti's PM Ariel Henry resigns as law and order collapse
Haiti’s PM Ariel Henry. Photo: Google
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Ariel Henry, the prime minister of Haiti, has decided to step down after weeks of growing pressure and escalating violence in the nation.

It follows a meeting of regional leaders on Monday in Jamaica to talk about a political shift in Haiti.

Armed gangs have stopped Mr. Henry from going home, leaving him stuck in Puerto Rico.

Sir Henry asked Haitians to maintain their composure in a video speech announcing his departure.

“The government that I am leading will resign immediately after the installation of [a transition] council,” Mr Henry said.

“I want to thank the Haitian people for the opportunity I had been granted. I’m asking all Haitians to remain calm and do everything they can for peace and stability to come back as fast as possible.”

Mr Henry, who had led the country supposedly on an interim basis since July 2021 following former President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, had repeatedly postponed elections, saying security must be restored first.

Many Haitians had questioned him governing the country for this long without an elected president.

Heavily armed gangs have controlled the streets of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in recent days, demanding the resignation of the unelected prime minister.

Port-au-Prince and the surrounding region is under a month-long state of emergency, while a curfew has been extended.

Mr Henry had been in Kenya to sign a deal on the deployment of an international security force to help tackle violence when a coalition of gangs attacked police stations and stormed two of Haiti’s largest prisons.

A plane carrying Mr Henry was stopped from landing following sustained attacks at Haiti’s international airport.

His resignation has been expected for several days. The Caricom group of Caribbean nations had made its position clear that he was seen as an impediment to Haiti’s stability and that he would have to stand down so the move to a transitional council could begin.

The White House had initially wanted to see Mr Henry return to Haiti to oversee the transitional process, but the ferocity of fighting in the country changed minds in Washington in recent days.

Without the support of either the US state department or his neighbours, it was clear that Mr Henry had no alternative but to stand down.

Mr Henry has expressed a wish to return to Haiti but the security situation has to improve before he is able to do so, according to the US which was at the talks in Kingston on Monday.

A senior US official said Mr Henry had first made the decision to step down on Friday but he had waited for an official announcement so talks could take place.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken committed a further $100m (£78m) to the 1,000-strong UN-backed security force Kenya is expected to lead in Haiti.

The proposed US contribution to the security force now stands at $300m following Mr Blinken’s announcement, with a further $33m allocated for humanitarian aid.

Speaking following the meeting, chairman of the Caricom group and Guyana President Irfaan Ali said: “We acknowledge his resignation upon the establishment of a transitional presidential council and naming of an interim prime minister.”

President Ali said the transitional presidential council would have two observers and seven voting members, including representatives from several coalitions, the private sector and civil society, and one religious leader.

The council has been mandated to “swiftly” appoint an interim prime minister, he said, adding that anyone intending to run in Haiti’s next elections will not be able to participate.

It is hoped the council will pave the way for the first elections in Haiti since 2016.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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