Haiti Governing Council Takes Charge in Bid to Rein In Chaos

Haiti Governing Council Takes Charge in Bid to Rein In Chaos
A motorcyclist passes by burning tires as people demonstrate over the rise in the cost of living in Petit-Goâve, Haiti on September 14, 2023. Photographer: Richard Pierrin/AFP/Getty Images

Haiti’s nine-member governing council began to take control of the troubled, gang-riven Caribbean nation as local media reported sporadic gunfire throughout parts of the capital.  

Comprised of representatives from civil society and the private sector, the council was sworn in Thursday during a rushed ceremony at the National Palace.

The group, which has broad international backing, will be tasked with appointing a temporary president, laying the groundwork for long overdue elections, and paving the way for a Kenya-led multinational security force to take on the gangs.

White House spokesman John Kirby commended the council and said the US had landed a military aircraft at the long-shuttered international airport carrying aid. “Today marks a critical step towards free and fair elections,” he told reporters on Air Force One. “Renewed access to the airport after a month of closure and steps made today toward inclusive governance should give us all hope for the future of Haiti.”

Also Thursday, Prime Minister Ariel Henry officially resigned, thanking his supporters and those who had helped him lead Haiti during “difficult times.”

Henry left the country on official business Feb. 25 and was unable to return as powerful armed groups shut down the airport and seized large swathes of the capital. His resignation was dated April 24 and signed in Los Angeles.

The Transitional Presidential Council, as the group is known, was the product of intense international negotiations. Among the voting members are former Central Bank Governor Fritz Alphonse Jean; Haiti’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Smith Augustin; and Edgard Leblanc, a former senate president. Regine Abraham, the council’s sole female member who holds a non-voting seat, once worked for the World Bank.

Haiti has been stuck in a profound political and humanitarian crisis that has only grown worse since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Murders and kidnappings are now rampant and more than 90,000 people have fled their homes in the capital alone, according to the UN.


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