Alleged gang leader calls on supporters to retake control of neighborhood, in Port-au-Prince

Haitian Bishops will not join government transitional council

The Bishops of Haiti say they have not appointed anyone to represent the Catholic Church in the presidential council charged with selecting an interim prime minister to restore order in the country.

By Lisa Zengarini

As gangs continue to wreak havoc in Haiti despite Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreeing to step aside to allow the formation of an interim government, the Haitian Bishops’ Conference (CEH) has issued a new appeal pleading once again for “an end to the violence, peace and reconciliation.”

In a statement released on Monday, the bishops reiterated their “deep pain” over what they term the “delirious atrocities” grappling the country, heeding Pope Francis concerns who, they said, “is very close to Haitian people.”

“The dream of a country free of violence impels us to raise our voices to demand an end to the acts that aim to reduce Haiti to rubble and ashes.”

Hope for conclusive talks to form transitional government

While encouraging Haitian leaders to find a solution to the crisis and restore peace and security for all, the statement clarified that the Church will not join the transitional council that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has charged with selecting an interim prime minister to replace Henry.  

However, they said, “We hope that the ongoing talks will lead to a truly inclusive and lasting patriotic agreement in the interest of all the Haitian people who aspire to peace.”

The nomination of the transitional council has been delayed by infighting as group leaders have bickered over potential candidates. The body is to comprise - among others - seven voting members, two observers and a religious leader.  CARICOM said Tuesday that all groups except one have submitted nominees.

Call not to fuel violence

As Haiti awaits the installation of the council, the bishops insisted on urging all Haitians "not to fuel violence" because, they said, "any destruction causes Haiti to regress or delay the progress we all desire.”

“Let us put an end to these violent acts which cause so much suffering.”

Attacks on state institutions and civilians continuing

Gang violence, however, is still ongoing, despite Henry stepping down. Gang leaders, had called for his resignation claiming he was not elected and blaming him for deepening poverty in the country, but attacks on state institutions have continued unabated after Henry promised to resign last week once the transitional council is created.

On Monday gunmen targeted the Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH), one of a few key institutions still running in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, leaving up to four dead and a guard injured. In another part of the city,  armed men looted homes in two upscale neighbourhoods, forcing residents to flee.

Day of prayer for Haiti in Latin America and the Caribbean on March 22

As the violence continues, the Episcopal Council (CELAM), the Confederation of Religious of Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAR) and Caritas of Latin America have joined to call for a "Continental Day of Prayer", to be held on March 22 under the slogan "We Are All with Haiti".

“We can never remain indifferent to the suffering of an entire people that is part of our Latin American and Caribbean people. It's part of our history. It's part of our Church.”

“We know that the solution is not directly in our hands and that it needs the courage and determination of men and women with national and international decision-making power”, they said in a statement.  “However, we are convinced of the strength and power of prayer, which also brings us closer and expresses our solidarity with the Haitian people.”

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20 March 2024, 15:21