Violent protests in Haiti demand the resignation of the prime minister

People demonstrate calling for the resignation of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince – Copyright AFP Richard PIERRIN

Angry protesters rallied in the Haitian capital on Wednesday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry after he failed to step down in accordance with a political agreement reached in 2022.

Haiti has been gripped by unrest since Monday, with thousands demonstrating in Port-au-Prince and across the country.

“This Wednesday is D-Day. It’s the day Ariel Henry has to leave office,” a motorcycle taxi driver attending the rally in the capital told AFP, asking not to be named.

“I hope he will listen to reason.” Otherwise, the voice of the people will be heard,” added the protester.

Local media reported that some of the demonstrations turned violent as protesters clashed with police and at least two people were shot and killed in the unrest.

Under an agreement reached in December 2022 following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise a year earlier, Henry was to hold elections on February 7, 2024 and then hand over power to newly elected officials.

But Henry remained in power and an aide said the prime minister intended to form a government of national unity.

The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti, has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs controlling parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, leaving the economy and public health system in shambles.

The assassination of Moise in 2021 threw the country further into chaos. No elections have been held since 2016 and the presidency remains vacant.

– “We can’t take it anymore”

Another protester, in his 40s and unemployed, who also declined to be named, said Henry “has not provided any solutions to our problems.”

“The country is being held hostage by gangs. We can’t eat. We cannot send our children to school,” he added. “We can’t take it anymore.”

The protests were called by several opposition parties and were joined by workers from the National Protected Areas Agency, an environmental agency that has rebelled against the government.

February 7 is a symbolic date for Haitians because it marks the anniversary of the end of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986.

An attack took place on Tuesday evening at a police station in the northeastern province of Ouanaminthe, local media reported. Main roads and schools have been closed across the country since Monday.

The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, said Wednesday it was strengthening its borders because of the violence.

Leave a Comment