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Tension grips Haiti capital as another gang leader killed in shootout

2024-03-22 02:44:12

Attacks flared in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday as political groups appeared to get nearer to finalising a transition council set to take over from an absent government, including a shootout which left another gang leader dead.

A police operation killed the head of the Delmas 95 gang, Ernst Julme, known as Ti Greg, a day after another gang leader was killed in an apparent resurgence of a vigilante justice movement, police and sources confirmed.

A member of gang leader Jimmy “Barbeque” Cherizier’s “Viv Ansanm” alliance, Julme’s death marks a setback for gangs’ moves to take over more parts of the city. Julme had recently escaped from Haiti’s largest prison in a mass jailbreak.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed reports that political groups had selected all members of a transitional council set to assume presidential powers ahead of future elections, a U.N. spokesperson said.

The council, intended to bring together Haiti’s fractured political class, is mandated to appoint a replacement to de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who announced his resignation on March 11 as gang violence prevented his return into the country.

The council will also wield certain presidential powers until elections can be held.

“The Secretary-General welcomes reports that Haitian stakeholders have all nominated representatives to the Transitional Presidential Council,” deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said at a press briefing.

The transition plan was brokered in Jamaica by the intergovernmental Caribbean Community (CARICOM), alongside representatives of Haiti’s government and opposition. CARICOM released a list of political groups that would be represented in the council.

The nine-member council was initially expected to be finalised within a couple of days of Henry’s resignation, but some Haitian political factions were unable to unite behind one representative.

One party rejected the plan altogether, then backtracked, while groups left out of the plan criticised the return of politicians from previous administrations seen as corrupt.

Cherizier has threatened reprisals against politicians and their families if they take part in the proposed council.


As the council seemed to near completion, heavy gunfire was heard on Thursday near the National Palace off the Champ de Mars square in downtown Port-au-Prince, while people fled fresh shootings in the capital’s Petion-Ville suburb.

On Wednesday, suspected gang members in Petion-Ville, which has been under attack over recent days, were killed and set on fire – including one leader known as Makandal – in what appeared to be a resurgence of a civilian vigilante movement known as Bwa Kale.

Local media reported another Bwa Kale killing outside the capital on Thursday, though Reuters was unable to verify this.

The state has been largely absent during the violence and police are ill-equipped against heavily armed criminal groups seeking to expand their territorial control of the capital city. Plans for an international security mission, requested by Henry in 2022, remain on hold.

Haq said the international force’s swift deployment was critical for the political and security situations to improve.

He said the UN would support restoring Haiti’s democratic institutions and called for the protection of civilians.

The UN and other international bodies and embassies have been evacuating staff and other foreigners by helicopter because Haiti’s main airport is not secure.

The US government on Thursday organised the departure of 90 US citizens from Haiti’s northern city of Cap-Haitien to Miami as well as from Port-au-Prince to the Dominican Republic, in addition to 70 that has flown out since Sunday, a State Department spokesperson said.

Published By:

Vadapalli Nithin Kumar

Published On:

Mar 22, 2024

Haiti unrest, Port-au-Prince, Haiti capital, gang wars in Haiti, Delmas 95, political groups in Haiti

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