Haiti elections will take place when security improves, PM Henry says as protests grow

CNN  — 

Elections in Haiti will take place when the security situation improves, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said in a national address on Wednesday evening.

Anti-government protesters angered by the gang violence sweeping the country and deepening levels of poverty have been calling on Henry to step down and for general elections to be held

But Henry said Wednesday he could not step down as prime minister because the government needed first to ensure conditions were safe enough to stage an election.

Haiti has been facing escalating violence, with killings and rapes being reported across the country. It is also struggling with warring gangs, poverty and displacement.

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

From October through December of last year, 2,327 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in Haiti, an eight percent increase over the third quarter of 2023, according to a report from the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BIUH).

More than 8,400 people were victims of such violence through all of last year, BINUH said.

According to an agreement in December of 2022 titled the “National Consensus for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections,” Henry was supposed to hold general elections and pass on power by February 7, 2024, according to Le Moniteur, the official state journal of Haiti, which published the agreement.

The agreement was made between political parties, civil society groups, religious representatives, and Henry’s government in Haiti, according to Le Moniteur.

Henry said he would continue to communicate with all political actors and civil society to find a way out of Haiti’s crisis, and encouraged Haitians not to view the government or national police as their enemies.

People who use violence and killings to gain power are “not working in the interests of the Haitian people,” Henry said.

“I cannot over-stress the severity of the situation in Haiti, where multiple protracted crises have reached a critical point,” Maria Isabel Salvador, head of BINUH said last week, according to a press release from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“While improvement to the security situation is essential to break the cycle of crises in Haiti, long-term stability can only be achieved through a nationally owned and inclusive political process,” Salvador said.


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