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Haïti: new shootings in Port-au-Prince after a lull

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The capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, has been shaken by violence for several days, creating a climate of insecurity for the local population. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

Shots were heard Thursday in Port-au-Prince after three days of calm relative, while negotiations on the creation of transitional authorities continue to try to get the Caribbean country out of the crisis.

On Monday evening, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whose mandate was marked by a rise in the power of armed gangs, announced that he was resigning, but that he would manage current affairs until the appointment of a transitional presidential council.

During an emergency meeting in Jamaica with the participation of Haitian representatives, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the UN and several countries such as the United States and France have tasked Haitian groups with setting up this council.

This structure must be composed of seven voting members representing the main political forces in Haiti and the private sector. It must choose an interim prime minister and appoint an inclusive government.

Six out of seven groups have submitted the name of their representative to CARICOM, several indicated sources at AFP.

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Only the left-wing party Pitit Desalin refuses to be represented. Steps are underway to replace him.

As for the members of the December 21 collective, Ariel Henry's group, they are not managed to agree on a single representative and designated three people.

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Former Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has resigned as the country is plunged into an episode of violence . (File photo)

Over the past few hours, a number of the entities that will make up the transition council have submitted their names, a US State Department spokesperson confirmed.

The United States will continue to work with CARICOM, international partners and above all with Haitians themselves on ways to return to democracy and free and transparent elections in Haiti, a- he added.

Heavily contested, Ariel Henry was appointed a few days before the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Haiti, which has not had an election since 2016, is still without a head of state.

Gangs control swathes of the country, including 80 percent of the capital Port-au-Prince. Their violence, murders, rapes, kidnappings for ransom and looting have recently taken on a new dimension, international organizations have expressed concern.

Mr. Henry, who had gone to Nairobi to sign an agreement on sending Kenyan police officers to Haiti, was unable to return to his country.

After a few days of calm, automatic weapons fire was heard during the night in the capital.

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A fire broke out on March 14 in the Port-au-Prince penitentiary, after a gang leader made threats against political leaders who could be in the transitional government.

I heard gusts throughout the night. I couldn't sleep. The shots were really close, a resident of Vivy Mitchell, a neighborhood of Pétion-Ville, near the police academy, told AFP.

On Thursday, shots were also heard near the airport, which remains closed.

A police officer was shot while he was near the airport, a police union member said.

In view of the situation, Kenya announced on Tuesday that it would suspend the deployment of its police officers as part of an international mission supported by the UN, but assured that it would intervene once a presidential council was installed.

For the safety of its teams and passengers and out of an abundance of caution, the cruise line Royal Caribbean told AFP that ;she is currently suspending her stopovers in Labadee, Haiti.

The reaction of gangs to political developments is particularly scrutinized. The leader of one of these armed bands, Jimmy Chérizier, alias Barbecue, affirmed that the resignation of Ariel Henry did not matter to him and that he intended to continue the fight for the liberation of x27;Haiti.

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Former police officer Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, leader of the “G9” alliance, is considered the most powerful in Haiti today. (Archive photo)

While waiting to see if an end to the crisis is emerging, the United Nations has indicated that it will implement places an air bridge between Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic to allow the flow of humanitarian aid. The UN hopes it will be operational as quickly as possible.

A UN spokesperson stressed the concern of the organization.

The World Food Program (WFP), which distributes meals in Port-au-Prince, may have to close for the week next in the absence of additional funding, alerted Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN.

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