• Friday, February 23, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Haiti: Prime Minister urges calm as violent protests seek his ouster

Haiti: Prime Minister urges calm as violent protests seek his ouster

In a public speech early on Thursday, Haitian Prime Minister, Ariel Henry called for peace in the wake of three days of violent protests that have paralyzed the nation and forced his resignation.

The brief statement did little to calm the thousands of people who were becoming more and more irate and agitated by the lack of general elections, ongoing gang violence, and growing poverty.

“I think the time has arrived for all to put our heads together to save Haiti, to do things another way in our country,” Henry said without offering specifics.

He pleaded with Haitians not to view the National Police or the government as their enemies. He declared that those who wish to seize power by killing, destroying, and using violence are “not working in the interests of the Haitian people.”

His remarks coincide with the hundreds of Haitians who have been gathering every day this week in cities and towns all around the nation to call for Henry’s resignation and to threaten to keep protesting until he quits.

As of January 2023, the tenure of the last ten senators in Haitian history have expired, leaving the Senate vacant. Following President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in July 2021, Henry came to power with the backing of the world community after the country’s scheduled elections in 2019 and 2023 failed to transpire.

Five armed environmental protection officers were shot and murdered by police on Wednesday in Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital. Some fear this shooting incident could make Haiti’s problem worse.

The Associated Press was informed by Lionel Lazarre, the leader of the Synapoha police union, that the Laboule neighborhood was the scene of the shootout between police and operatives from Haiti’s Security Brigade for Protected Areas. He said that when the environmental agents were ordered to lower their firearms, the police retaliated by firing back.

Following an altercation between its agents and police in northern Haiti, the environmental division has recently come under fire.

According to Henry, Haitians require employment, security, peace, and freedom of movement throughout the nation.

“Haitian people need for their children to go to school without fear, because that’s what’s going to guarantee them a future,” he said.

Henry said he will keep reaching out and collaborating with everyone who wants to see the nation move forward, “to take decisions together that are going to help us emerge from the crisis,” and he once again promised to call general elections as soon as Haiti’s security concerns are handled.

Along with praising law enforcement for their work against gangs, he pledged to continue pressuring the United Nations to support the deployment of a Kenyan police force, which is presently being prevented by a court injunction.

“I want to reassure everyone the government will do whatever it can for the mission to come as fast as possible,” he said.

Henry also extended his sympathies to all those who have died in the violent protests this week.

“I give you assurance that the Haitian people will have peace and development with prosperity,” Henry said, without providing details. “Together, hand-in-hand, we will change our destiny.”

By February 7, when Haitian leaders are normally sworn in, Haitians expressed their desire for Henry to resign. The date is also deeply significant in Haitian history: it was on this date in 1986 that Jean-Claude Duvalier, the country’s former dictator, escaped for France, and it was on this date in 1991 that Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the country’s first democratically elected president, took office.