US asks Haiti to prioritize electoral council amid gang violence and a humanitarian crisis

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.S. officials have asked Haiti’s prime minister to prioritize the establishment of an electoral council as the country strives to rebuild its government amid rampant gang violence.

“This critical step toward will give the Haitian people an opportunity to select their leaders democratically for the first time in years,” said Brian Nichols, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, who spoke after a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille the day before.

Nichols said that U.S. officials acknowledged Conille’s progress in improving conditions to restore security in Haiti, but they emphasized the need to establish an electoral council.

Weeks of coordinated attacks by gangs forced former Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign in April, and his Cabinet was dissolved. Gunmen took control of police stations, opened fire on the main international airport that remained closed for nearly three months and stormed Haiti’s two biggest prisons.

A transitional council was later established and its members named Conille as the new prime minister.

Part of the council's mission is to also appoint an electoral commission, a requirement before an election can take place. The council’s non-renewable mandate expires Feb. 7, 2026, at which date a new president is scheduled to be sworn in.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Blinken and Conille discussed the next steps for the U.N.-backed contingent of foreign police aimed at curbing gang violence in Haiti. The first group of a couple of hundred of Kenyan police officers have been deployed to help reinstall stability.

Criminal gangs currently control about 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The upsurge of violence in Haiti has left more than 580,000 displaced in recent months, according to a recent report by the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration.

Todd Robinson, assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said on Wednesday that the U.S. has provided deployment training and personnel to support the international mission in Haiti.

The U.S. has also delivered armed vehicles, drones, and other equipment to bolster the Haitian National Police amid the wave of attacks. Training and equipment were also provided to Haiti’s counternarcotics unit and border police units, Robinson confirmed.


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