Haiti's prime minister announces resignation amid growing pressure

 March 13, 2024

As the conditions on the ground in Haiti continue to worsen, a bombshell announcement was made by Prime Minister Ariel Henry this week regarding his future. 

According to the Associated Press, Henry announced Tuesday that he will resign "once a transitional presidential council" is formed.

The news comes in the wake of the violence plaguing the nation's capital, which is now controlled largely by armed, violent gangs under organized leadership.

The armed gangs, who outnumber and outgun the nation's police forces, have made demands to be included in the new leadership that will form in the coming weeks and months.

What's happening?

Leading up to Henry's resignation announcement, there were several reports that suggested he was pressured by President Joe Biden's administration to exit.

However, those reports were later denied, and the White House clarified that it urged a transitional period, which is exactly what resulted anyway.

Experts like Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, warned that Haiti's new government will need to find a way to incorporate the gang's demands to be a part of the new government, or else they'll continue to wreak havoc.

"Even if you have a different kind of government, the reality is that you need to talk to the gangs," Fatton said.

He added, "If they have that supremacy, and there is no countervailing force, it’s no longer a question if you want them at the table. They may just take the table."

Gangs taking over

While gangs have always had influence on the nation's capital city, the situation has intensified immensely, especially in the realm of organizing.

AP noted:

More than 200 gangs are estimated to operate around Haiti, mostly in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. More than 20 of them are based in the capital and rally around two main coalitions: G9 Family and Allies led by Jimmy Chérizier, a former elite police officer known as “Barbecue”; and G-Pep, led by Gabriel Jean-Pierre, who is allied with Johnson André, leader of the 5 Seconds gang and known as “Izo.”

The Pentagon was asked last week if it intended to reinforce Haiti's police forces with U.S. troops. It said it had no plans to do that.

It'll be interesting to see how the situation unfolds and how the Biden administration reacts to whatever the new government in Haiti will look like.

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