Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign amid low-scale civil war, bowing to international pressure

Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced Tuesday that he will resign, bowing to international pressure to do so amid turmoil that has overwhelmed the country.

In a statement released early Tuesday morning, Henry agreed to leave office once a transitional presidential council is created and an interim PM is named. The announcement came hours after officials, including Caribbean leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, met in Jamaica for an emergency meeting to discuss Haiti’s spiraling crisis worsened by violent gangs burning police stations, attacking the main airport and raiding two of the country’s biggest prisons.

Some experts have described the current crisis as a low-scale civil war. 

‘The government that I’m running cannot remain insensitive in this situation. There is no sacrifice that is too big for our country,’ Henry said in a recorded statement. ‘The government I’m running will remove itself immediately after the installation of the council.’

It is not immediately clear who will lead Haiti out of the crisis. 

Brazil, Canada, France, Mexico, the United Nations and the U.S. are all in discussions on how to help the multidimensional crisis in Haiti. 

The resignation came just days after the State Department requested the Marines to bolster U.S. personnel as armed gang violence has broken down law and order in the Caribbean country.

This week, the Marines deployed a security team to Haiti and the U.S. military also carried out an operation to airlift personnel out of the Embassy.

‘At the request of the Department of State, the U.S. military conducted an operation to augment the security of the U.S. Embassy at Port-au-Prince, allow our Embassy mission operations to continue, and enable non-essential personnel to depart,’ U.S. Southern Command said Monday. 

It added: ‘This airlift of personnel into and out of the Embassy is consistent with our standard practice for Embassy security augmentation worldwide, and no Haitians were on board the military aircraft. Our Embassy remains focused on advancing U.S. government efforts to support the Haitian people, including mobilizing support for the Haitian National Police, expediting the deployment of the United Nations-authorized Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, and accelerating a peaceful transition of power via free and fair elections.’

On Friday, the State Department initially said it was seeking to send forces to the Atlantic.

‘We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,’ a U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Friday. ‘We are constantly monitoring the political and security situation and will take steps as circumstances warrant.’

‘The U.S. Embassy remains open with limited staffing and will continue to provide assistance to U.S. citizens as necessary. We are committed to working toward our objectives in Haiti, which include bringing security, stability, and prosperity to the Haitian people.’

‘U.S. citizens wishing to depart Port-au-Prince should monitor local news and information on security conditions from commercial transportation providers and should arrange to leave Haiti when security conditions and commercial transportation options permit doing so,’ the spokesperson added.

Scores of people have been killed amid the violence, and more than 15,000 residents are homeless after fleeing neighborhoods that were raided by gangs. The raids resulted in the release of more than 4,000 inmates.

Food and water are also dwindling as stands and stores selling to impoverished Haitians have run out of goods.

The main port in Port-au-Prince remains closed, preventing containers with critical supplies from reaching those in need. Heavily armed gangs control about 80% of Port-au-Prince.

Earlier on Monday, Blinken announced an additional $100 million to finance the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti and another $33 million in humanitarian aid.

During the private leadership meeting, Jimmy Chérizier, who is considered Haiti’s most powerful gang leader, said the international community would ‘plunge Haiti into further chaos’ should it continue down its current road.

‘We Haitians have to decide who is going to be the head of the country and what model of government we want,’ said Chérizier, who leads the gang federation G9 Family and Allies. ‘We are also going to figure out how to get Haiti out of the misery it’s in now.’

Caricom, a regional trade bloc, organized the urgent meeting in Jamaica as it has pressed for months for a transitional government in Haiti.

Guyana President Irfaan Ali said the transitional council would have seven voting members and two non-voting ones.

Henry has served the longest single-term as prime minister since Haiti’s constitution was approved in 1987.

He was sworn in as prime minister following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021.

Fox News’ Peter Aitken and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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