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Haiti's future governing council vows to restore order: statement

Armed police officers monitor a street after gang violence on the evening of March 21, 2024, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 22, 2024 (Clarens SIFFROY)
Armed police officers monitor a street after gang violence on the evening of March 21, 2024, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 22, 2024 (Clarens SIFFROY)

The governing council that aims to oversee a political transition in Haiti vowed Wednesday to restore "public and democratic order," in its first statement to the Caribbean nation wracked by a worsening security crisis.

"We are determined to alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people, trapped for too long between bad governance, multi-faceted violence and disregard for their perspectives and needs," said the statement from the Presidential Council, which has yet to be officially installed.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has led the impoverished Caribbean nation since the shock 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise, promised over two weeks ago to step down after a transitional council is stood up -- though reaching that stage has proved exceedingly difficult.

Henry's decision came after a steadily worsening security crisis culminated in a coordinated campaign of attacks by armed gangs demanding his ouster late last month.

The presidential transition council -- to be composed of seven voting members and two non-voting members -- draws from Haitian political parties, the private sector and elsewhere, and is to name an interim prime minister and government to set the stage for fresh elections.

But squabbles among party leaders have bogged the formation of the council down.

"As soon as it is installed, the Presidential Council will appoint a Prime Minister, with whom it will form a Government of National Unity and put Haiti back on the road to democratic legitimacy, stability and dignity," Wednesday's statement said.

It also highlighted progress towards officially installing the council itself, saying that it has "worked out the criteria and mechanisms for choosing the President of the Presidential Council, appointing a new Prime Minister and cabinet."

"Together, we will implement a clear plan of action aimed at restoring public and democratic order" by improving security and holding free elections, the statement continued.

"The Presidential Council is currently finalizing a document on its organization and mode of operation, including a transparent political agreement between the sectors involved in the process," it said.

The statement, signed by eight of the nine members of the council, ended with a plea for unity, warning that Haiti is at a "crucial turning point."

bur-st/caw