Haiti prime minister resigns as criminal gangs plunge country into crisis

Haiti’s prime minister Ariel Henry has agreed to tender his resignation, regional Caribbean leaders said, amid weeks of spiralling violence in the country.

The prime minister has been under pressure to resign and has remained stranded outside the country in Puerto Rico due to surging violence and unrest in Haiti led by criminal gangs, who have taken control of much of the capital.

Mr Henry will stand down once a transitional government has been put in place, according to the chair of the Caribbean Community regional bloc Irfaan Ali, who is also president of Guyana.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry offers resignation


Mr Ali led an urgent meeting of Caribbean leaders late on Monday in Jamaica, which was attended by officials including US secretary of state Antony Blinken.

Mr Ali said the leaders “acknowledge the resignation of Haitian prime minister Ariel Henry” upon the establishment of a transitional presidential council and the appointment of an interim premier.

Mr Ali said: “I want to pause and thank Prime Minister Henry for his service to Haiti.”

Heavily armed criminal gangs have attacked major government assets across the capital Port-au-Prince in recent days and taken control of the country’s main international airports. The violence, which began on 29 February, has seen gang members burn down police stations and raid the country’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

Dozens of people have been killed in the country and more than 15,000 have been forced to flee their homes due to gang raids, with many now facing dwindling supplies of food and water.

Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness said the Latin American country was “now at a tipping point”.

“We are deeply distressed that it is already too late for too many who have lost far too much at the hands of criminal gangs,” he said.

The council has been instructed to promptly designate an interim prime minister, Mr Ali noted, emphasising that individuals intending to contest Haiti’s upcoming elections will be ineligible to participate.

The US has airlifted in extra military muscle to guard its embassy in Port-au-Prince and Mr Blinken announced an additional $100m to finance the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti on Monday.

He also announced a second tranche of $33m in humanitarian aid and the creation of a joint proposal agreed on by Caribbean leaders and “all of the Haitian stakeholders to expedite a political transition”.

Mr Ali said: “I think we can all agree: Haiti is on the brink of disaster. We must take quick and decisive action.”

The crisis in Haiti unfolde while the prime minister was en route to Kenya to advance a United Nations agreement to deploy 1,000 Kenyan police officers in his country to assist in restoring security.

Gangs were able to prevent Mr Henry from re-entering the country, stopping his plane from landing in the capital by launching attacks on Haiti’s main international airport.

Mr Henry, an unelected official, is the longest-serving prime minister since Haiti‘s 1987 constitution was approved. He took office after the assassination of president Jovenel Moïse in 2021 and has repeatedly postponed elections.

It is expected that a transitional council would pave the way for the first elections in the country since 2016.

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