Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign amid increasing gang violence

Ariel Henry locked out of country after travelling to Africa to sign agreement for posting of Kenyan police officers to restore security

Ariel Henry was installed as Prime Minister after the assassination of his predecessor, Jovenel Moise. AP
Powered by automated translation

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Tuesday announced he would resign when a transitional government was in place, giving in to international pressure to make way for new leadership in a country overwhelmed by gang violence.

Mr Henry made the announcement hours after Caribbean leaders and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Jamaica to discuss a solution to Haiti’s crisis and agreed to a joint proposal to establish a transitional council.

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

“The government I’m running will remove itself immediately after the installation of the council.”

Mr Henry, who had been on an official trip to Kenya to sign an agreement to send 1,000 Kenyan police officers to the Caribbean nation to help restore security, is in Puerto Rico.

He has been unable to enter Haiti because the violence has forced the closure of its main international airport.

"We commend Prime Minister Henry for his statesmanship and putting his country first, and agreeing to step down when the transitional presidential council is established," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Tuesday.

Mr Miller said that the decision comes at a critical point for the Haitian people.

The members of the council will be appointed in the next 24 to 48 hours, he said, although he could not put a timeline on the appointment of an interim prime minister.

Mr Henry was installed as Prime Minister after the assassination of his predecessor Jovenel Moise and has grown deeply unpopular. Haitians are angry that elections have not been held in almost a decade.

It was not immediately clear who would be chosen to lead Haiti out of the crisis in which heavily armed gangs have burnt police stations, attacked the main airport and raided two of the country’s biggest jails, resulting in more than 4,000 prisoners running free.

Scores of people have been killed and more than 15,000 left homeless after fleeing neighbourhoods raided by gangs.

Food and water are growing scarce as the main port in the capital of Port-au-Prince remains closed, stranding dozens of containers with critical supplies.

Updated: March 13, 2024, 4:48 AM