Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry resigns Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry resigns  (ANSA)

Haiti’s prime minister announces his resignation

Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry announces his resignation and a path to elections, as the Catholic Church continues to act as a bulwark of faith against the gang violence that has gripped the Caribbean nation.

By Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced his resignation on Monday evening in an official video address from Puerto Rico.

He agreed to step down from power when a transitional presidential council and an interim prime minister have been established.

“My government will leave immediately after the inauguration of the council. We will be a caretaker government until they name a prime minister and a new cabinet,” Mr. Henry said.

He thanked the Haitian people for the chance he had been given, and encouraged them to remain calm and to “do everything they can for peace and stability to come back as fast as possible."

Escalating violence over the past weeks

In late February, Mr. Henry travelled to Kenya with the aim of securing support for an international security initiative aimed at combating Haiti's influential armed gangs.

However, escalating violence in the capital during his absence left him stranded in Puerto Rico, a US territory.

Mr. Henry, who assumed office as prime minister in 2021 following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, has faced intense criticism in recent weeks for delaying the scheduled elections for this year.

In early February, he declared his intention to conduct the polls by August 2025, citing the need for a more stable situation. The previous election occurred in 2016.

The Prime Minister’s resignation was expected after the Caricom group of Caribbean nations had explicitly stated that they viewed him as a hindrance to Haiti's stability and urged him to step aside in order to pave the way for the establishment of a transitional council.

Church is ‘a source of strength and help’

Amidst the violence and many social issues in the country, the Church continues to act as a source of strength and effective help for many.

Fr. Massimo Miraglio, parish priest of the newly-created Parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the mountainous village of Jérémie, spoke to Vatican News’ Federico Piana about how the Church is a source of strength and help in Haiti.

“The Church has always accompanied the Haitian people with great strength, with great courage,” he said.

He spoke of the social initiatives, schools, hospitals and soup kitchens that the Church ministers in the poorest areas.

Fr. Miraglio praised the work that many religious communities carry out every day. “Just think of many other religious congregations that have schools in the slums where they try to carry out serious educational programs, which really prepare these children to become citizens of tomorrow.”

“In short, there really is a capillary network of presence on the part of the Church on the territory and also in the province,” he added.

Church’s role in rebuilding Haiti

Fr. Miraglio believes that the Church has an influential role to play in building up a new and “different Haiti”.

“It is necessary from now on to start thinking about a different Haiti,” he said, “about how to rebuild Haiti.”

He explained that Haiti doesn’t only need the kind of aid that it has received from emergency aid programs after natural disasters, but “needs a precise plan for its reconstruction, because Haiti is as if it came out of a terrible war.” 

“There remains everything yet to do, everything to rebuild and so the Church will play and must play a fundamental role in this reconstruction,” said Fr. Miraglio.

He expressed his hopes that forces for good in Haiti can come together around the table and establish a plan to rebuild the country. The parish priest also sees the role of the Church in helping young people, also those who were previously engaged in gangs, to reintegrate into society.

Fr. Miraglio concluded the interview by saying the Church “will have a fundamental role [to play] for its credibility and for the great work it has already done in all these years alongside the population of Haiti.”

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12 March 2024, 16:00