Haiti’s Prime Minister calls for calm as violent protests continue

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry urged calm in a public address early Thursday morning following three days of violent protests that have paralysed the country as thousands demand his resignation.

The brief speech in the pre-dawn hours did little to appease people who are angry and frustrated over unrelenting gang violence, deepening poverty, and the lack of any plan in sight for general elections. His comments were made as thousands of Haitians gathered daily this week in cities and towns across the country to demand that Henry step down, saying they will keep protesting until he leaves.

“I believe the time has arrived for all to put our heads together to save Haiti, to do things another way in our country,” Henry said.

He also urged Haitians not to look at the government or at Haiti’s National Police as their adversaries. Those who choose violence, destruction and killing people to take power are “not working in the interests of the Haitian people,” he said.

His comments were made as thousands of Haitians gathered daily this week in cities and towns across the country to demand that Henry step down, saying they will keep protesting until he leaves.

Haiti’s legislature is currently empty, after the terms of its last 10 senators expired in January 2023. The country failed to hold planned elections in 2019 and 2023, and Henry assumed power with the support of the international community following the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

On Wednesday, police killed five armed environmental protection agents in the capital of Port-au-Prince in a shooting some worry could worsen Haiti’s crisis.

Clashes between the environmental protection agents and police have erupted since January, leading Henry to announce a restructuring of the environmental agency and the dismissal of its chief.

In a statement on Thursday, Haiti’s Office of Citizen Protection condemned the killings of the environmental agents and called for an independent commission to investigate the incident.

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