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Ariel Henry, Haiti’s Leader, Says He Will Resign

by Marko Florentino
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Haiti’s prime minister, who has come under growing pressure to resign as gangs have overrun the country, said late Monday that he would step down once a transitional council had been established, to pave the way for the election of a new president and help restore stability.

“The government that I lead will withdraw immediately after the installation of this council,” Prime Minister Ariel Henry said in a speech posted on social media. Referring to the chaos in Haiti, he said, “It hurts us and it revolts us to see all these people dying. The government that I lead cannot remain insensitive to this situation.”

But it was far from clear when Mr. Henry, who had been under growing pressure to step down both in Haiti and abroad, would actually do so.

Leaders from Caribbean nations, who have led the push to create a transitional council, met for discussions in Jamaica on Monday but said no plan had been finalized. Guyana’s president, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who leads Caricom, a union of 15 Caribbean countries, said that “we still have a long way to go.”

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who attended the meeting in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, announced that the United States would provide an additional $100 million in aid toward a United Nations-backed multinational security mission planned to deploy to Haiti. He also pledged an additional $33 million in humanitarian aid, bringing the U.S. commitments to $333 million.

“We can help. We can help restore a foundation of security,” Mr. Blinken said. “Only the Haitian people can, and only the Haitian people should determine their own future, not anyone else.”

Mr. Henry left Haiti for Kenya in early March to finalize an agreement for the multinational force, led by the East African nation, to deploy and take on the gangs. Since then, he has been stranded outside his country while gang members wreak havoc and demand his resignation.

Mr. Henry, who has been staying in Puerto Rico, did not attend Monday’s meeting, and it was unclear if he had taken part remotely in the discussion.

After months of delays, Haiti and Kenya signed an agreement this month to move forward with the deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers to the Caribbean nation. President William Ruto of Kenya said his country had a “historic duty” to press ahead because “peace in Haiti is good for the world as a whole.”

Kenya’s interior minister, Kithure Kindiki, announced Monday that the mission was in the “predeployment stage” and that all other programs and enforcement measures related to the deployment were already in place.

So far, however, there is no clear timeline for when the multinational force will deploy.

“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,” said Andrew Holness, the prime minister of Jamaica. “The fear of the situation in Haiti worsening to become a civil war is now a real one. We are all agreed that this cannot be allowed to happen, not in our hemisphere.”

Haiti has spiraled into a state of extreme unrest since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 led to widespread gang violence. To date, the country has no president nor any other elected national officials.

Mr. Henry was sworn in as prime minister only two weeks after Mr. Moïse’s killing. But Haitians have not yet been able to choose a democratically elected successor.

The current unrest is on a scale not seen in decades. The recent escalation of violence, gang attacks on police stations and even coordinated assaults on two prisons have left Haitians to deal with a humanitarian disaster as access to food, water and health care has been severely curtailed.

Over the weekend, U.S. forces evacuated nonessential U.S. citizen workers from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince and added more security personnel, according to a statement from the Defense Department’s Southern Command. It said no Haitians were included in the airlift.

Andre Paultre contributed reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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