Politicians seek new alliances to lead Haiti as gangs take over and premier tries to return home

Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry, second left, arrives to give a public lecture at the United States International University (USIU) in Nairobi, Kenya, Friday March. 1, 2024. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said Friday elections in his country need to be held as soon as possible in order to bring stability to the troubled Caribbean nation facing gang violence that threatens to overran government. Henry is in Kenya trying to salvage the deployment of a foreign armed force to Haiti to help combat gangs. (AP Photo/Andrew Kasuku)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian politicians started pursuing new alliances Wednesday, seeking a coalition that could lead the country out of the gang violence that has fueled lawlessness, closed the main airport and prevented embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry from returning home.

Haiti remained largely paralyzed, with schools and businesses still closed amid heavy gunfire blamed on the gangs that control an estimated 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where several bodies lay on empty streets. The country’s two biggest prisons were also raided, resulting in the release of more than 4,000 inmates over the weekend.


Henry faces increasing pressure to resign, which would likely trigger a U.S.-supported transition to a new government.

One new political alliance involves former rebel leader Guy Philippe and ex-presidential candidate and senator Moïse Jean Charles, who told Radio Caraïbes on Wednesday that they signed a deal to form a three-person council to lead Haiti.

Philippe, a key figure in the 2004 rebellion that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, returned to Haiti in November and has been calling for Henry’s resignation. He spent several years in prison in the U.S. after pleading guilty to a money laundering charge.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was asked Wednesday whether the United States asked Henry to step down.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield replied that the U.S. has asked Henry to “move forward on a political process that will lead to the establishment of a presidential transitional council that will lead to elections.”

American officials believe it’s urgent for Henry to start “the process of bringing normalcy back to the people of Haiti,” she said.

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