Haiti PM says he'll resign once transitional government is installed to end gang violence

A man pushes a wheelbarrow past burning tires during a protest demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
A man pushes a wheelbarrow past burning tires during a protest demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Copyright Odelyn Joseph/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Odelyn Joseph/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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The spectacular collapse of law and order in the Caribbean country follows years of natural disaster, conflict and poor governance.

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Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has announced he will resign once a transitional presidential council is created, bowing to international pressure to make way for new leadership in a country overwhelmed by violent gangs.

Henry made the announcement hours after Caribbean leaders and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Jamaica to discuss a solution to halt Haiti's spiralling crisis, ultimately agreeing on a plan to establish a transitional council.

"The government that I'm running cannot remain insensitive in front of this situation. There is no sacrifice that is too big for our country," Henry said in a recorded statement.

"The government I'm running will remove itself immediately after the installation of the council."

It was not immediately clear who would be chosen to lead Haiti out of the crisis in which heavily armed gangs have burned police stations, attacked the main airport and raided two of the country's biggest prisons. The raids resulted in the release of more than 4,000 inmates.

Members of the G9 and Family gang speak to each other while standing guard at their roadblock in the Delmas 6 neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
Members of the G9 and Family gang speak to each other while standing guard at their roadblock in the Delmas 6 neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.Odelyn Joseph/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

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

Henry was sworn in as prime minister nearly two weeks after the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and went on to serve the longest single term of any Haitian prime minister since the country's 1987 constitution was approved.

Critics of Henry note he was never elected by either the people or parliament, which has not sat since the terms of the last remaining senators expired in January 2023 – leaving Haiti without a single elected official.

While leaders hammered out the transitional proposal behind closed doors in Jamaica, Jimmy Chérizier, who is considered Haiti's most powerful gang leader, told reporters 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 also known as Barbecue, who leads the gang federation G9 Family and Allies.

"We are also going to figure out how to get Haiti out of the misery it's in now."

Powerful gangs have been attacking key government targets across Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince since February 29. When the attacks began, Henry was in Kenya pushing for the UN-backed deployment of a police force from the East African country after it was delayed by a court ruling.

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

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