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Haitian gangs demand overthrow of PM Henry amid heightening crisis

Posted: Wednesday, September 20, 2023. 5:37 pm CST.

By Horace Palacio: As reported by Reuters, the escalating chaos in Haiti took a dire turn as the country’s most influential gang leader demanded the armed ousting of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Encouraging Haitians to rally against the non-elected government, this act has intensified the pre-existing humanitarian catastrophe in the nation.

Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, an ex-law enforcement officer who now spearheads a dominant coalition of gangs holding sway over significant portions of Port-au-Prince, orchestrated an armed march in the capital this Tuesday.

Participants obstructed roads and amplified their cause with drumming. Speaking to Reuters, Cherizier asserted, “We are launching the fight to overturn Ariel Henry’s government in any way. Our fight will be with weapons.” Furthermore, he announced intentions for regular “demonstrations in all working-class neighborhoods” to protest against the Henry-led government, criticizing its legitimacy.

Ever since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, Haitian gangs, notorious for their frequent skirmishes with the police and illicit engagements in extortion and drug peddling, have seen their influence burgeon. Moise’s demise ushered in a power void, subsequently leading to Ariel Henry’s interim leadership.

Despite the unrest, Henry remains steadfast in his commitment to conduct elections upon reasserting security and has sought international collaboration to subdue the surging gang threats.

Cherizier directed a message to the global community, stating, “The international community cannot continue to do this in Haiti.” He challenged their support for Henry, contending, “If the international community has nothing to do with (Moise’s) death, they must not support Ariel Henry.”

The statement underscores the mounting tensions and the impending challenge for Haiti’s political stability.

 

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