Haitian Prime Minister Resigns

Nearing Collapse

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has resigned after a week of a State of Emergency being declared within Haiti. The PM had faced extensive pressure, both domestically and internationally, in order to resign.

Last week, a state of emergency was declared after the nations gangs, in particular the G9 headed by Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, launched a wave of attacks throughout the country, primarily in the capital of Port-au-Prince in an attempt to force PM Henry’s resignation.

PM Henry had been out of the country, having travelled to Kenya in order to sign a security agreement to try and facilitate the deployment of Kenyan police as the head of a UN intervention force to the country. He was attempting to return last week, when the G9 launched attacks all across Port-au-Prince, including upon the airport, which grounded flights and prevented the PM’s return. Since then, PM Henry has been in Puerto Rico, after the Dominican Republic refused his planes request to land there.


Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry (back left) and Kenyan President William Ruto (back right) witness the signing of the reciprocal arrangement between the two nations in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 1st, 2024 (Photo from the Kenyan State House).

PM Henry’s resignation was announced by Haiti and the President of Guyana, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, after the emergency CARICOM (the Caribbean Community) meeting held in Jamaica on March 11th.

“The government that I lead cannot remain insensitive to this situation. As I have always said, no sacrifice is too great for our homeland … I ask all Haitians to remain calm and do everything they can to ensure that peace and stability return as quickly as possible” -Prime Minister Ariel Henry

President Ali stated that “we note the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry”, and further announced the creation of “a transitional governance agreement paving the way for a peaceful transition of power, continuity of governance, a short term security action plan and free and fair elections.”


The CARICOM logo.

It is unclear who exactly will head the transitional government, particularly when the nation is still stricken with internal conflict.

Haitian authorities have confirmed that police have managed to regain control of the port in Port-au-Prince, and have resumed shipping out of the port.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has told PM Henry he is welcome to stay in Puerto Rico.

PM Henry has been the acting President since 2021, after former President Jovenal Moise was assassinated. PM Henry has, on several occasions, promised to hold elections within the nation, however has thus far failed to do so. Technically, his term was due to end in February. He had recently promised again to hold elections by August of 2025, but had stated the nation must get ahold of its security situation first before it is able to hold any elections. With PM Henry now out of the picture, it is unclear when the nation will hold elections, after not holding any since 2016.


Former Hatian President Jovenal Moise pictured with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Peru, 2018 (Photo from the Peru Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Evacuations

Several different international entities have evacuated their embassy staff from Port-au-Prince. The US evacuated their non-essential staff on Saturday/Sunday, Germany evacuated their staff on Sunday, moving their ambassador to the Dominican Republic, and the EU on Monday evacuated all of its embassy staff.

Renewed clashes in the capital have prompted many to flee, displacing thousands of people. Within Haiti, a total of 362,000 people are displaced, which has already increased by 15% this year.

A Future of Uncertainty

Despite a number of different entities promising support to Haiti, including CARICOM who promised to help restore “stability and normality” in Haiti, it is unclear who exactly is going to bring about the change needed within the country. The nations gangs are likely to be emboldened after successfully forcing the PM’s resignation, gangs which have previously called for a political upheaval. Haiti’s police force of 9,000 is severely outmatched by the gangs, who enjoy control of approximately 80% of Port-au-Prince.


Supporters of Bwa Kale, a Haitian vigilante movement, pose with their machetes in the Delmas district of Port-au-Prince (Photo from AP).

Although PM Henry signed an agreement for a Kenyan led deployment to Haiti, the deployment is still up in the air after a series of delays in Kenya’s court system. The Nairobi High Court had struck down the deployment as “unconstitutional” on three separate occasions, however had recently stated if Kenya and Haiti signed a “reciprocal agreement” in order to facilitate the deployment, that it may meet the legal requirements. The agreement has been signed, and now the decision technically lies with Kenya’s Court of Appeal. There is no set date for when the court will rule on the matter.

Things are worsened with PM Henry’s resignation, which further muddies the already very murky waters of the Kenyan deployment, a deployment which Haiti, the Kenyan government, and the UN have all made repeated calls to quicken given the difficult situation in Haiti.

Things seem dire for the nation and people of Haiti, which has already witnessed over 1,000 homicides so far in 2024.

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Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.
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