US pushes Haiti’s prime minister on transition as gang leader warns of ‘genocide’

Mar 6, 2024, 3:10 PM

The whereabouts of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry had been in doubt until he resurfaced in Puer...

The whereabouts of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry had been in doubt until he resurfaced in Puerto Rico. Mandatory Credit: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

New York (CNN) — The US has called for “urgent” movement toward a political transition in Haiti, as gangs run amok in the nation’s capital and opposition groups demand Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation.

Henry landed in the US territory of Puerto Rico on Tuesday after days of speculation about his whereabouts. He had been in Kenya last week to sign an agreement securing a Kenyan-led multinational mission to restore security in the Caribbean nation.

According to the Miami Herald, Henry had planned to return to Haiti via the US and the Dominican Republic, but was diverted to Puerto Rico after the Dominican government changed its mind. US officials called Henry mid-flight in an effort to persuade him to step aside in favor of a transitional administration, the report also said.

The Dominican Republic rejected informal inquiries from both the US and Haiti’s government this week about a possible “indefinite stopover” for Henry’s plane, the Dominican Republic’s presidential spokesman said Wednesday. “On both occasions the Dominican government communicated the impossibility of said stopover without receiving a defined flight plan,” Homero Figueroa said Wednesday.

Asked on Wednesday if the US had asked Henry to resign, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “What we’ve asked (Henry) to do is move forward on a political process that will lead to establishment of a presidential transitional council that will lead to elections.”

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the US “is not calling on (Henry) or pushing for him to resign” but added that “we are urging him to expedite the transition to an empowered and inclusive governance structure” to prepare for the multinational security mission and eventually for elections.

Since Henry’s trip to Kenya, the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince has been gripped by a wave of highly coordinated gang attacks on law enforcement and state institutions. Armed groups have burned down police stations and released thousands of inmates from two prisons, in what one gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, described as an attempt to overthrow Henry’s government.

Cherizier has taken credit for the attacks and warned of even more dire consequences if the international community “continues to support Henry.”

“If Ariel Henry doesn’t step down, if the international community continues to support Ariel Henry, they will lead us directly into a civil war that will end in genocide,” Cherizier told Reuters in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday.

“The international community, especially the United States, Canada, France, and the Core Group will be responsible for all the people who die in Haiti.”

Political uncertainty

Henry’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Claude Joseph, told CNN Wednesday that political opposition groups are discussing a possible transition of power in Port-au-Prince. That process would likely be structured with the initial appointment of a three-member transitional council, which would select an interim president to lead the country, he said.

Joseph said Henry’s resignation has been “overdue” since February 7 of this year, referring to the prime minister’s promise to hold elections in 2023. They were never held, with Henry’s administration citing the country’s insecurity as a major obstacle.

Amid the latest bout of political uncertainty, the US is making preparations for the potential for mass migration from Haiti, over concerns that many people could flee as the situation worsens, the Department of Homeland Security official said.

The official also said that the US Secret Service assisted in providing Henry with security protection while he was in Puerto Rico, pointing out that it is standard procedure for a foreign leader in the United States.

The UN Security Council is due to hold a meeting on Haiti later on Wednesday. Ahead of the meeting, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk urged the international community to “act swiftly and decisively to prevent Haiti’s further descent into chaos.”

“This situation is beyond untenable for the people of Haiti,” he said. “We are simply running out of time.”

International actors have watched the deteriorating conditions in Haiti with concern. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General, said Wednesday that the worsening situation is increasing the need for the deployment of the support mission.

“We need the international community to help the Haitian authorities restore law and order and calm the situation down,” he said.

In October, the UN Security Council authorized the multinational security support mission, which Kenya volunteered to lead. However, it remains unclear how exactly the Kenyan-led mission will operate and the timeline for the deployment.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - APRIL 12: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump and...

Lisa Mascaro and Jill Colvin, Associated Press

Trump gives support to embattled Speaker Mike Johnson at pivotal Mar-a-Lago meet

Donald Trump has given his support to embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson during a visit to the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

1 minute ago

President Joe Biden is receiving constant updates on threats of Iranian retaliatory strikes against...

Kevin Liptak, Natasha Bertrand and Samantha Waldenberg, CNN

Biden says he expects Iran will attack Israel ‘sooner than later’

President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House Friday that he expects Iran will attack Israel “sooner than later.”

3 hours ago

About 576,000 Roku accounts were compromised in a cyberattack, the company said on April 12, the se...

John Towfighi, CNN

Roku says 576,000 accounts breached in cyberattack

About 576,000 Roku accounts were compromised in Roku's second cyberattack of the year.

3 hours ago

The dome of the U.S. Capitol is reflected in a window on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in April 2...

Kristin Wilson, Haley Talbot and Lauren Fox, CNN

House passes modified surveillance bill after it failed earlier this week

The House on Friday passed a modified surveillance bill, just two days after an earlier version failed to advance.

7 hours ago

Oakland officials have voted in favor of changing the name of the city’s airport to San Francisco...

Olga R. Rodriguez and Christopher Weber

Oakland officials vote to include ‘San Francisco’ in airport’s name

Oakland officials have voted in favor of changing the name of the city’s airport to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.

8 hours ago

FILE: Rashee Rice #4 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up before Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas ...

Associated Press

Kansas City Chiefs’ Rashee Rice surrenders to police on assault charge after high-speed crash

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice has surrendered to police on charges including aggravated assault after he and another driver of a speeding sports car allegedly caused a crash on a Dallas highway last month.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

US pushes Haiti’s prime minister on transition as gang leader warns of ‘genocide’