As violent protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry grip the nation, five agents of an environmental protection organization were slain in recent skirmishes with police outside the capital.
Since then, hundreds of protesters in Port-au-Prince and around Haiti have demanded that Henry resign by a political deal formed in 2022. This has led to widespread unrest throughout the country.
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Five agents of the National Agency for Protected Areas, an armed government body currently engaged in open rebellion, were shot by police after they refused to put down their guns and started shooting at the officers, a police source told reporters.
According to the source, three more agency employees were taken into custody.
Following the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in December 2022, a deal was reached that said Henry would hold elections before handing over authority to newly elected leaders on February 7, 2024.
Henry, however, is still in charge; according to an adviser, the prime minister plans to establish a government of national unity.
“This Wednesday is D-Day. It’s the day when Ariel Henry must leave office,” a motorcycle taxi driver protesting in the capital told AFP, asking that his name be withheld.”
The protester stated, “I hope he will listen to reason. Otherwise, the voice of the people will be listened to.”
The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti, has been in chaos for years due to armed gangs seizing control of the country and committing horrific acts of brutality that have destroyed the public health system and economy.
After Moise was assassinated in 2021, the nation descended into even greater anarchy. Since 2016, there have been no elections, and the president is still unfilled.
Henry, according to a 40-year-old jobless protestor who also chose not to reveal his identity, “had not provided any solutions to our problems.”
“The country is being held hostage by gangs. We can’t eat. We can’t send our children to school,” he added. “We can’t take it anymore.”
Several opposition parties have called for the protests, and environmental agency staff members have joined them.
For Haitians, February 7 is a significant day since it commemorates the fall of the Duvalier government in 1986.
According to local media, there was an attack on a police station in the northeastern province of Ouanaminthe on February 6, 2024. Ever since the 5th, major roadways and schools have been shuttered nationwide.
The violence prompted the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti on the island of Hispaniola, to announce that it was fortifying its borders.