Haiti to Create Transitional Presidential Council, Gang Conflict Escalates

Haiti Begins Forming Transitional Council Amid Rising Gang Violence: 

According to the state-run journal Le Moniteur, the remaining government forces in Haiti have issued a decree to begin the formation of the planned Transitional Presidential Council by appointing nine members made up of seven voters and two non-voting observers from both political, private, and civil society groups, as detailed in a previous article. If all goes according to plan, the Transitional Presidential Council, made up of nine members, will soon elect a new Prime Minister and, with the PM, appoint a Council of Ministers. Until a new government is elected, the TPC will hold power over the presidency, at least until February 7th, 2026, when the mandate ends, as reported by AFP. Presumably, the agreement for the council was approved by the Caribbean body CARICOM, which received the proposal from Haitian leaders on Sunday.

Gang violence and resulting civilian causalities have escalated significantly in Haiti recently, especially since a coordinated attack on the government on February 29th left institutions and infrastructure damaged. In late March, the U.N. reported that in Haiti, at least 686 innocent people were killed, 371 injured, and 379 kidnapped in the first two months of 2024 alone. Adding to that, they estimated that at least 695 gang members were killed or injured in the same period of time, an increase of 40% from the previous two months. A state of emergency is now in place until May 3rd, with nighttime curfews until at the very least April 17th, according to the current outgoing acting PM’s office, Ariel Henry, who became both acting President and Prime Minister after the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse in July of 2021. Henry announced his resignation on March 11th amid surges in attacks. Charities were reportedly forced to cease operations due to gun battles this week.

While violence continues to be drawn to the capital of Port-au-Prince due to the presence of gangs, it continues to spread to adjacent areas and communities. More brazen street violence and attacks on rival groups have led to international attention. U.S. government-charted evacuated flights also reportedly departed Haiti for the last time today, after the State Department gave a warning a week ago of the impending deadline for citizens. Foreign nationals of Haiti and other visitors remaining likely will continue to try to find ways out as exit routes have become scarce.

The organized gang violence in Haiti is primarily a result of the territorial expansion of the G-9 crime family and affiliated or allied gang organizations, as well as rival G-Pèp alliance gangs. G-9 is reportedly connected to the ruling Haitian Tèt Kale Party (Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale – PHTK), while the G-Pèp gangs are supported by rivals of PHTK, according to local humanitarian rights groups Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) and La Fondasyon Je Klere (FJKL), as detailed in a report  by the non-profit think tank Insight Crime.

G-9 and G-Pèp fighting and escalatory turf conflict, as well as infighting within coalitions and ranks, has led to a range of “attacks involving killings, arson, and sexual violence in the Carrefour-Feuilles (Port-au-Prince commune), Meyer (Croix-des-bouquets commune) and Caradeux (Tabarre commune) neighbourhoods. It appears that these attacks were aimed at gaining access to areas where they can increase their kidnapping activities due to the strategic position of these neighbourhoods.” according to the U.N report, they continue by detailing the violence across the city with the gangs having “carried out large-scale attacks to expand their influence over the south and northeast of the capital. For instance, attacks in the Carrefour and Gressier communes were driven by increased kidnapping, vehicle hijacking, and imposing “taxes” on passers-by on National Road 2 and extorting businesses moving goods through the Mariani port. These attacks appeared to be also linked to gangs’ interest in securing an escape route leading away from the capital in the context of police operations. Meanwhile, attacks in the Thomazeau and Ganthier communes in the northeast of the capital intensified in September 2023. While these areas have no economic interest for gangs, this strategy is also related to gangs’ efforts to secure an escape route, in this case, leading to hard-to-reach mountainous areas leading to the central regions of the country. In this regard gangs have followed a “scorched earth” tactic to clear the areas of people, burning hundreds of vehicles and buildings in the two communes, including the Thomazeau police station. In December 2023, infighting within G-9 and allies took place in Cité Soleil and Portau-Prince over territorial control and the sharing of resources from truck hijackings and other methods of extortion imposed on local businesses. These clashes intensified significantly following the death of the Belekou gang leader, part of the G-9 coalition, in Cité Soleil in late October. In addition, main roads and ports connecting the capital with the rest of the country, remained under gang control. Violence also continues to grow in the Lower Artibonite communes of Montrouis, Marchand Dessalines, Gros Morne, l’Estère, Liancourt, Petite Rivière de l’Artibonite, Verettes and Saint Marc. A joint OHCHR/BINUH report indicates that support from G-Pèp gangs based in the capital, coupled with alleged inconsistent and inadequate responses on the part of authorities, have facilitated the acceleration of violence in these rural areas and caused a serious deterioration of the human rights situation.”