Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 617, 22 March 2024

Haiti: Continuing political instability 
Navinan GV

In the news
On 21 March, Ernst Julme, also known as Ti Greg, the boss of the Delmas 95 gang, was assassinated in a police operation. He was a member of the gang leader Jimmy Cherizier's "Viv Ansanm" alliance. 

On 20 March, members of Petion-Ville were slaughtered and set on fire.

On 18 March, gangs looted suburban communities, killed dozens, and left their bodies in the streets and fuel stations. Subsequently, four power stations were destroyed. The spokesperson for the US Department of State, Vedant Patel, stated that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is close to finalising the transitional council. 

On 16 March, UNICEF reported that one of its relief containers at Haiti's main port, packed with "essential items of maternal, neonatal, and child survival," had been robbed as gangs gained control of the capital. UNICEF chief said the situation was like "Mad Max."

On 12 March, Laurent Uwumuremyi, the Haiti country director for the humanitarian group Mercy Corps, said that Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry's resignation had “not yet generated any effect” in the capital.

Issues at large
First, the resignation of the prime minister. Ariel Henry was unable to return to Haiti from his trip to Kenya in late February to secure the support of a Kenyan-led multinational force to Haiti. During his absence, the country witnessed a surge in violence, after gangs took control of the airport. Amid threats of civil war and international pressure, on 11 March, Henry tendered his resignation following an emergency meeting of regional leaders of CARICOM. The CARICOM discussed the framework for political transition, while the US highlighted the need for swift action as the gangs wreaked chaos. 

Second, the delay in the transitional council. Internal fighting among political parties and the reluctance of some groups to participate in the transitional council are two primary reasons for the delay. The proposal to have a new leadership in Haiti was rejected by several political parties, including the Pitit Desalin led by former senator and presidential candidate Jean-Charles Moise. Asserting that no Haitian should accept any proposal from the international community, Moïse insisted on implementing the three-person presidential council, which he recently formed with former police officer Guy Phillippe and a Haitian judge. 

Third, continuing violence. Despite Henry’s resignation, the tensions have not reduced. Jimmy Cherizier, the leader of the G9 gang, stated: “We’re not going to recognise the decisions that CARICOM takes.” He said that those living in Haiti should make the decisions and rejected the transitional council. After gangs destroyed four power stations in the capital, many parts of Port-au-Prince remain without power. There is a shortage of energy, fuel, and medical supplies, affecting hospitals across the country, with six out of ten facilities unable to function. Gangs have blocked roads and ports, limiting fuel distributors' ability to carry gas to pumps around the country. 

In perspective
Haiti is expected to see more political clashes with obstacles in forming the transitional council. Though the international community wants Haiti to speed up the process, there is no consensus among the parties about who should be in the councilThe majority of the Haitians including the gangs oppose the foreign-backed transitional council. 

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