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A little hope in Haiti after the resignation of Ariel Henry

Photo: Odelyn Joseph Associated Press The political transition caused by the resignation of Ariel Henry plunges Haiti into a period of uncertainty, but daily life continues for Haitians in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

Lisa-Marie Gervais

March 13, 2024

  • Americas

In a Haiti in freefall, the numerous calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister have been heard: Ariel Henry leaves office in the wake of the creation of a presidential transitional council. In the opinion of several experts, this departure is a first step towards ending the crisis, but above all an opportunity to be seized to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

“It’s a small step,” says Frantz Voltaire, director of the International Haitian, Caribbean and Afro-Canadian Documentation and Information Center, located in Montreal. “When you’re locked somewhere, you have to break the lock and open the door. And it is now half open. »

For this historian, this is above all an opportunity that must be seized to put in place solutions that will truly resolve the problem. “We must not make the same mistakes again. We must create conditions that will lead to real elections,” he said, allowing himself to evoke the failures of the past.

In a statement posted online, Ariel Henry indicated that he would continue to manage current affairs until the appointment of a prime minister and a government. “No sacrifice is too great for our homeland, Haiti,” he said.

For Sandy Larose, researcher at the State University of Haiti and doctoral student in sociology at Laval University, this departure is a good thing since Mr. Henry “was part of the problem.” In two years in office, this “bureaucratic” prime minister, with almost zero legitimacy, had failed to organize elections before 2024 as he had committed to doing. “He didn’t have the leadership or the will. He was the man to pass time while waiting for a solution,” he argued.

Hope, but…

This departure, the void of which will be filled by a transitional presidential council, should nevertheless lead to the appointment of an interim prime minister and then lead to a short-term action plan in terms of security as well as free elections. .

Which is, in itself, a source of hope, believes Henri-Paul Normandin, former Canadian ambassador to Haiti (2010-2013) and fellow at the Montreal Institute of International Studies. “I think that the meeting [of the Caribbean Community on Monday] achieved most of its objectives, namely to bring Haitian political and civil society leaders to a consensus in principle on the establishment of a government transition,” he said.

He insists that although the meeting was convened by the international community, it is primarily a Haitian solution. “It is the Haitian actors who will have to determine who will be the individuals who will be on this presidential council and who, subsequently, will appoint this [interim] prime minister. »

The urgency now is to determine who will occupy these positions. “These decisions need to be made quickly. The Americans said in 24 to 48 hours, and I hope so. There will be no discussion for weeks and months. »

According to Lou Pingeot, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa, the Caribbean Community seems to want to demand that anyone who wants to be part of the transition council agrees from the outset the presence of the multinational security force led by Kenya. This does not send “a good sign,” she says.

Because for a long time, Haitian civil society has deplored having had its ability to act on its fate taken away. “We might have the impression of returning to fairly anchored habits, where it is the United States and the international community who make the decisions while ultimately consulting the Haitians relatively little,” as was the case during Michel Martelly’s elections. , recalls Ms. Pingeot. “And it’s because of that kind of dynamic that we find ourselves in this situation today. »

Necessary support

Nevertheless, Haiti will need the support of its allies, concedes Frantz Voltaire. “We must find a Haitian solution, but involve external skills and have the support of the Americas. »

According to him, Canada, which currently plays an essentially passive role, could become more involved. “What we need most is resources to strengthen the national police, much more than police officers who will come from Kenya and who do not speak the language at all,” argues Mr. Voltaire. Canada could have greater leadership and play a greater role, as [Brian] Mulroney did in the past. »

The multinational force led by Kenya, for its part, indicated that it would wait for the establishment of this new government before deploying to Haiti. A “healthy” decision, according to Henri-Paul Normandin. “Because the signal sent is that Kenya will put itself at the service of a State to help its national authorities, in particular the Haitian police, to restore security. It is the complete opposite of a force that arrives and takes control of the situation, he notes. And that adds an element of pressure to act quickly. »

The resignation of Ariel Henry alone will not be able to resolve an uninterrupted crisis for more than 35 years, believes Sandy Larose. “Because today, Haiti is facing a humanitarian crisis where civilian populations do not have access to drinking water, food, housing or health care,” he emphasizes.

For Lou Pingeot, however, the danger is to lock ourselves into the same paradigm, which wants the pearl of the Antilles to be constantly seen as a poor and bankrupt country where anarchy reigns. “These are things that are repeated over and over again and can obscure the real issues. Things are actually much more complex. Always talking about chaos obscures the political crisis. »

Frantz Voltaire believes that even if there is an urgent need to get the country out of the infernal cycle of violence, “it will take some time”. In the immediate future, the resignation of Ariel Henry could calm things down, it all depends on the reaction of the gangs and other actors. “One thing is certain, Haiti is in a better situation today than it was yesterday,” admits Henri-Paul Normandin. There is hope. But the game is not won. »

With Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116