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Haitian PM agrees to ‘share power’ until election: Caribbean counterpart

Haiti has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, leaving the economy and public health system in tatters
Haiti has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, leaving the economy and public health system in tatters - Copyright AFP/File AHMAD GHARABLI
Haiti has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, leaving the economy and public health system in tatters - Copyright AFP/File AHMAD GHARABLI

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has accepted to “share power” with the opposition until fresh elections are held in the crisis-torn country, a Caribbean leader said Wednesday at a summit in Guyana.

Haiti has been engulfed in unrest in recent weeks as thousands of people took to the streets to demand Henry step down in line with a political agreement forged in December 2022. 

Under that deal, concluded following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise the previous year, Haiti was supposed to hold elections and Henry cede power to newly elected officials by February 7, 2024. 

But he has remained in power, and an aide has said the prime minister intended to form a government of national unity.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, told reporters “we have made a lot of progress” in talks at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit, and Henry had “committed to serve as an honest broker and to share power.”

The power-sharing arrangement could enter into force “within a short period of time,” said Browne.

Asked about an election date, he added: “As we fix the political issues, it is not just about having an interim power-sharing group to govern Haiti but the issues of institutional strengthening, reestablishing the electoral machinery, the democratic institutions and at the same time setting a firm date, possibly within the next 12 months, for presidential elections.”

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, has not gone to the polls since 2016.

The nation of about 12 million has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, leaving the economy and public health system in tatters.

At the CARICOM summit, which ends Wednesday, it was announced that Benin is mulling a 2,000-strong troop contribution to a UN security mission to Haiti.

Kenya has agreed to lead the mission, but it has been held up for months over logistics issues, a legal challenge in Nairobi, and funding shortfalls.

Browne said Wednesday that CARICOM expected more of a contribution from Western powers, former colonial ruler France in particular. 

“There is at least a… moral obligation to provide leadership in resolving this issue and not to have, let’s say, a group of developing countries bearing all the sacrifice of loss of lives,” he said.

“I think France, more so than any other country, has an obligation to help to restore peace and stability within Haiti,” added Browne.

AFP
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