Haiti’s PM steps down

PORT AU PRINCE – Prime Minister Ariel Henry Tuesday formally announced his intention to resign as Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders said they had brokered a deal for Haiti paving the way for a “peaceful transition of power” in the French-speaking CARICOM country.

“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 videotaped statement.

“The government I’m running will remove itself immediately after the installation of the council,” said Henry, who was unable to attend a high-level meeting on Haiti held in Jamaica on Monday.

He said that the “members of this council will be chosen after an agreement between the different sectors of national life,” adding “it will continue to liquidate current affairs until the appointment of a Prime Minister and a government”.

Henry has been in Puerto Rico since last week, unable to enter his country after having travelled from Kenya where he signed an agreement allowing for a United Nations Security Council sanctioned international force led by the African country to restore peace and security in his troubled country.

CARICOM had played a key role in organising the meeting in Kingston that was attended by top officials from the United States, France, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Benin, Kenya as well as the United Nations.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Guyana’s President and CARICOM chairman, Dr Irfaan Ali, told reporters that an agreement had been reached that would allow for Prime Minister Henry to step down and for a transitional governance arrangement “which paves the way for a peaceful transition of power, continuity of governance and action plan for near term security and the road to free and fair elections”.

“It further seeks to assure that Haiti will be governed by the rule of law. This commitment reflects hard compromises among a diverse coalition of actors who have put their country above all differences.

“To that end, we acknowledged the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, upon the establishment of a transitional presidential council, and the naming of an interim prime minister.”

Ali said he wanted to thank Henry, who came to power following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021, “for his service to Haiti, his service to the Haitian people and for his personal commitment to the furtherance of the development of Haiti and the advancement of the people of Haiti and I ask us to give him an applause”

Ali said that it was also agreed that there would be the creation of a transitional presidential council comprised of seven voting members and two voting observers.

Those with votes include the Pitit Desalin party, run by former senator and presidential candidate Moïse Jean-Charles, who is now an ally of Guy Philippe, a former rebel leader,  who led a successful 2004 coup and was recently released from a United States prison after pleading guilty to money laundering. Also with a vote is the EDE party of former prime minister Charles Joseph; the Fanmi Lavalas party; the December 21 coalition led by Henry; the Montana Accord group; and members of the private sector.

The non-voting members will be represented by one member from civil society and one member of the interfaith community.

Ali told reporters that even though Henry had decided to step down “there’s a number of steps that still must take place”.

Heavily armed gangs, under the leadership of former elite policeman Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, had for several weeks been pushing for Henry to step down and had even blocked him from returning to the country.

Late Monday, the Haitian government announced it was extending a nighttime curfew until March 14 in an attempt to prevent further attacks by the criminal gangs that have all but taken over the country. (CMC)

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