Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigns, allowing U.N. force, elections

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Embattled Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has submitted his resignation, clearing the way for a new government to accept the deployment of a U.N. security force and lead this beleaguered Caribbean nation to elections.

Henry is to be succeeded by Finance Minister Michel Patrick Boisvert, who has been leading the government since Henry left the country on a diplomatic trip two months ago. Boisvert is to work with a panel of representatives from several political parties.

Henry, Haiti’s de facto leader since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, initially enjoyed the support of the United States and other foreign nations, but he proved ineffective at reducing endemic gang violence or restoring order in the hemisphere’s poorest nation. He resigned in a letter dated Wednesday but made public Thursday.

Haiti’s presidency has been vacant since Moïse’s still-unsolved killing; its national assembly empty since the last senators’ terms expired in early 2023. Henry has been locked out of the country since February, when a coalition of armed gangs shut the airport down.

The paramilitary groups, which have long wielded power in Haiti, now control roughly 80 percent of the capital. In February, several joined to attack Toussaint Louverture International Airport, several prisons, a key seaport, police stations and medical centers and demand Henry’s ouster.

Gangs have kidnapped or killed thousands of people, raped scores of women and children and forced several hundred thousand from their homes. The U.N. human rights office has called conditions here “cataclysmic.”

Gangs this week attacked the Varreux fuel terminal, sparking fears of shortages and skyrocketing prices.

The transitional presidential council, set up by Haitian leaders, the Caribbean Community and the United States, includes representatives of several political parties, the private sector, civil society and the faith community.

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