A Small Break in a Big Storm

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Haiti’s new transition council will vote on the country’s next president on Tuesday to replace Ariel Henry who resigned from the position last week, all part of new efforts to bring the Caribbean country under control amid rampant gang violence and a humanitarian crisis, Reuters reported.

Against a backdrop of gunfire, the nine council members were sworn in at the National Palace on Thursday, with Michel Patrick Boisvert, a former Haitian economy minister, stepping in as acting prime minister, the New York Times said.

Henry pledged to resign after an official visit to Kenya, after which he was unable to return to Haiti when armed gangs threatened revolution if he didn’t resign. The criminal gangs have taken over large swathes of the country and its capital, Port-au-Prince.

The new council will now face the daunting task of restoring order in crisis-hit Haiti, reforming the constitution and organizing elections, which already have been repeatedly postponed since 2019.

Armed gangs – some of which are collaborating with each other – continue to wreak havoc, including looting homes and business, kidnapping and murdering civilians and raping women. They have vowed to disrupt the current political process.

The National Council has the power to dismiss and replace the prime minister. Under its mandate, a new president and all elected officials will have to be sworn in by February 2026, but the date of those elections has not been set yet.

Haiti has not had a president since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. All the terms of elected officials – from lawmakers to mayors – expired years ago.

At the same time, the council’s formation will allow for the deployment of a multinational police force, led by Kenya, pending the new government’s establishment. However, there are lingering doubts over the timing of the deployment and its funding.

Meanwhile, the United Nations mission in the country raised the alarm about the deteriorating security situation in Port-au-Prince.

Recent reports showed that around 2,500 people were killed or wounded because of gang violence in the first quarter of 2024, a 53 percent increase over the year before – and the most violence Haiti has seen since the mission began compiling the data in 2022.

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