Haiti’s Presidential Council: US Secretary of State calls Pres Ali to continue discussions on efforts to support security mission

…says US values Caricom’s support for Haiti’s inclusive, representative governance

United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken on Monday spoke with President Dr Irfaan Ali, who is the current Chair of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to continue discussions on Haiti.
The US State Department on Monday said that Secretary Blinken and President Ali discussed efforts to support Haiti’s Transitional Presidential Council and the Multinational Security Support mission in Haiti. The Secretary, the State Department said, also reiterated the United States values Caricom’s support of Haitian efforts to promote inclusive and representative governance.
On March 11, coming out of crucial talks among Caricom Heads in Jamaica on how to return Haiti to a state of normalcy, the regional bloc has announced that a Presidential Council will be established to guide Haiti towards elections and the restoration of order.
Heads of State and officials from a number of countries, both in the Region and from around the world, had gathered in Kingston, Jamaica for discussions on finding a resolution in Haiti, which is currently being torn apart by spiralling gang violence.

File photo: United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Guyana’s President Dr Irfaan Ali chatting at State House during the former’s visit on July 6, 2023 (Office of the President photo)

At a press conference that followed these talks, a number of leaders and officials lauded President Ali for his role as Chairman of Caricom, in organising the meeting. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in whose country the meeting was hosted, was one such leader.
Also appearing in person at the meeting was Secretary Blinken. Blinken represented the US in the talks and subsequently announced that financial assistance to the multinational force that would be deployed to Haiti has been increased to US$300 million. “Mr President, thank you. Thank you for your leadership today, but thank you for your leadership every day,” the Secretary of State said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended the meeting virtually, meanwhile, congratulated Caricom on meeting to discuss Haiti and coming up with a strategy to help the beleaguered country.

Only last week, Ali, in giving an update on the situation in Haiti, said that Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry is still committed to resigning once a Presidential Council is put in place for the transition, adding that the Region is still working with Haitian stakeholders on this matter.
The President noted that the Region was cognisant of the pressing need for action on Haiti to ensure normalcy can be returned.
“It is important for us to understand that while we await the deployment of (the troops), that there is immediate need for bridging security. And this is what we’re talking with key stakeholders and partners about. About how we can work on bridging security, as we move towards ensuring that the council comes into place,” Ali had said in his update to the media.
Ali noted that discussions about the Presidential Council were held last week and stakeholders have been identifying persons for the council. Further, he had said that discussions would continue, ensuring that all the stakeholders were involved, and that talks are not limited to the Presidential Council.
“It’s not only about the council. It’s also ensuring the security aspect is kept alive. The developmental needs. Humanitarian needs. So, it’s bringing a multi-faceted aspect under constant update,” he said.
Asked for a definitive timeline for how soon troops could be deployed into Haiti, President Ali noted that “I wish I could tell you tomorrow. But, of course, we’re working with stakeholders. We’ll have to get past the council. And we’re hoping that the resources to support the security presence would be forthcoming. Because that is key. The budget must be there.”
Previously-embattled Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry had announced he would be resigning, amid mounting pressure from a spiralling security breakdown and concerted efforts from Caricom, with the assistance of the international community, to broker a way forward.
His resignation had come in the wake of several agreements between Caricom Heads and Haitian stakeholders, including for the establishment of the council that would select a new interim Prime Minister.
Haiti has been engulfed in turmoil since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Since then, the streets have been overrun by gangs, and there has been a continuous cycle of violence.
That violence flared even more when, in February, criminal gangs in the capital Port-au-Prince conducted coordinated attacks targeting Police Stations, prisons, critical infrastructure, and civilian sites in the city.
On March 2, armed gang members raided two penitentiaries, reportedly freeing some 3800 inmates, after which Haitian authorities announced a State of Emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew.