Gang Violence Escalates in Haiti’s Capital as Transition Council Nears Completion

Gang Violence Escalates in Haiti’s Capital as Transition Council Nears Completion

Attacks and shootings erupted in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, on Thursday, as political groups moved closer to finalizing a transition council to assume power in the absence of a functioning government. In a police operation, Ernst Julme, also known as Ti Greg and the leader of the Delmas 95 gang, was killed, following the recent killing of another gang leader, indicating a resurgence of vigilante justice. The death of Julme, a member of Jimmy “Barbeque” Cherizier’s “Viv Ansanm” alliance, deals a blow to the gangs’ attempts to expand their control over the city. Julme had recently escaped from Haiti’s largest prison during a mass jailbreak.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his approval of reports that political groups had selected all members of a transitional council, which would assume presidential powers until future elections. The council, aimed at uniting Haiti’s fragmented political class, is responsible for appointing a replacement for Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who resigned on March 11 due to escalating gang violence that prevented his return to the country. Deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq stated during a media briefing that the Secretary-General welcomed the progress made by Haitian stakeholders in nominating representatives for the Transitional Presidential Council.

The transition plan, brokered in Jamaica by the intergovernmental Caribbean Community (CARICOM), along with representatives from Haiti’s government and opposition, has released a list of political groups that will be represented in the council. Although the council, consisting of nine members, was expected to be finalized shortly after Henry’s resignation, certain Haitian political factions struggled to unite behind a single representative. Initially, one party rejected the plan but later reversed its decision, while other groups criticized the inclusion of politicians from previous administrations, who are perceived as corrupt. Cherizier has issued threats of reprisals against politicians and their families if they participate in the proposed council.

As the council appeared to be nearing completion, heavy gunfire was reported near the National Palace in downtown Port-au-Prince, while residents fled shootings in the Petion-Ville suburb. On Wednesday, suspected gang members in Petion-Ville, which has been under attack in recent days, were killed and set on fire, including a leader known as Makandal, suggesting a resurgence of the civilian vigilante movement known as Bwa Kale. Local media reported another Bwa Kale killing outside the capital on Thursday, although Reuters was unable to verify this information. The state’s absence during the violence and the ill-equipped police force have allowed heavily armed criminal groups to seek territorial control over the capital.

Author: CrimeDoor

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