• Eight members have been nominated to the council, which will select an interim successor to Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
  • Haiti is under effective gang control after Henry was refused re-entry following a trip abroad.
  • Gangs have set fire to police stations, threatened the international airport and freed over 4,000 inmates from the country’s prisons.

Caribbean leaders said Tuesday that all but one of the groups and political parties had filed candidates for an interim presidential council tasked with selecting an interim prime minister for Haiti, which remains plagued by gang violence.

The original nine-member council was reduced to eight members after the Pitit Desalin party, led by former senator and presidential candidate Jean-Charles Moïse, rejected a seat last week. Moïse is allied with Guy Philippe, a former police officer and rebel leader who was imprisoned in the United States after pleading guilty to money laundering.

The December 21 Group, allied with Prime Minister Ariel Henry, was one of the last holdouts, submitting a name to regional trade group Caricom on Monday. The nomination was delayed by internal power struggles as the group leaders argued about potential candidates.

HAITI, US Embassy entrance area plunges into darkness as vandals attack power plants and substations

Henry, who remains barred from entering Haiti because ongoing gang violence has forced the closure of the country’s main international airport, has vowed to resign once the interim council is formed. He was on an official trip to Kenya pushing for the United Nations-backed deployment of a police force from the East African country to fight gangs in Haiti when armed gunmen carried out attacks in the capital Port-au-Prince on February 29 not completed. The deployment has been delayed.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on Tuesday: “Kenya has concerns about the composition of the local government.”

“We certainly hope they will be operational as soon as possible,” he said. “But they have their concerns. And for our part, we want to ensure that the transitional government’s regulations can be implemented.”

Ariel Henry

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry attends a public lecture at the United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Kasuku, File)

Gangs have torched police stations, opened fire on the main international airport and stormed Haiti’s two largest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates. On Monday, they attacked and looted homes in two upscale communities that had previously remained peaceful, killing at least a dozen people.

The U.N. humanitarian office reports that the situation in Port-au-Prince “remains tense and volatile,” with schools, hospitals and government buildings under attack and many operations curtailed, Haq said.

He added that the health sector continues to face problems due to shortages of medical supplies, medical personnel and blood.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the attacks left scores of people dead and about 17,000 people homeless. Most of them fled to the quieter southern region of Haiti.

“We are very concerned about the violence,” said Guyanese President Irfaan Ali, who is also Caricom chairman.

He told reporters Monday evening that time was of the essence given the situation, adding that officials remained hopeful for progress.

“We have been holding non-stop meetings almost every evening because Haitians need to establish the Presidential Council,” he said. “Progress has been made.”

In addition to selecting an interim prime minister, the council will be responsible for appointing a council of ministers, a provisional electoral council and a national security council. All members of the Transitional Council must also support the deployment of a foreign military force.

Those given a place on the council are EDE/RED, a party led by former prime minister Claude Joseph; the Montana Accord, a group of civil society leaders, political parties and others; Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide; the January 30th Collective, which represents parties including those of former President Michel Martelly; and the private sector.

Of the remaining two non-voting positions, one would go to a representative of Haitian civil society and the other to the religious sector.

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Caricom officials have not released the full list of names nominated to the council.

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