KINGSTON: Haiti’s prime minister said early Tuesday that he would step aside, seeking to quell a spiraling crisis of gang violence that spurred a regional push for political transition in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Caribbean nations secured Ariel Henry’s resignation at an emergency meeting on Monday in Jamaica, where US Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered another $100 million to pave the way for the security force, which will be led by Kenya.

Gangs have taken over much of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country and in recent weeks the crisis has grown even more violent, with bodies strewn across the streets, armed bandits looting basic infrastructure and fears rising of a famine.

“The government I lead cannot remain insensitive to this situation. As I have always said, no sacrifice is too great for our homeland Haiti,” Henry said in an address posted online.

He said the government had agreed to the creation of a “presidential transition council,” whose members would be chosen after discussions among various Haitian stakeholders.

“The government I lead will step aside immediately after the installation of the council,” Henry pledged.

Gang leaders had demanded the departure of Henry, who has remained in power since president Jovenel Moise’s 2021 assassination. Haiti has not held national elections since 2016.

Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali, the current chair of the Caribbean regional body CARICOM, saluted Henry’s “selfless intent.”

“That selfless intent was to see Haiti succeed,” Ali said after a weekend of hurried diplomacy.

Blinken, who spent seven hours inside the talks in a Kingston hotel, confirmed Henry’s resignation in a telephone call initiated by the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.

A US official traveling with Blinken said that Henry had agreed to quit on Friday but was waiting for the Kingston conference to sort out details of the transition.

Also raised were ways to prevent reprisals against Henry and his allies, with the United States agreeing that the outgoing prime minister would be welcome to stay on US soil if he feels unsafe in Haiti, the official said.

Senior officials from Brazil, Canada, France and Mexico joined the talks. CARICOM, in a statement with its partners and the United Nations, said that Haiti’s new Transitional Presidential Council would have seven voting members who make decisions by a majority vote.


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