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Haiti’s unelected prime minister urges calm following protests demanding his removal

HAITI’S unelected Prime Minister Ariel Henry urged calm in a public address early today following three days of protests demanding his resignation which paralysed the country.

The brief speech from Mr Henry did little to appease thousands of people angry and frustrated over unrelenting gang violence, deepening poverty and no general elections in sight.

Mr Henry was appointed to his role in July 2021 after the assassination of president Jovenel Moise when he secured the support of the United States, France and the United Nations.

The country has failed to hold planned elections in 2023.

Mr Henry said: “I think the time has arrived for all to put our heads together to save Haiti, to do things another way in our country.” 

He urged Haitians not to look at the government or at Haiti’s National Police as their adversaries. 

Those who choose violence, destruction and killing people to take power are “not working in the interests of the Haitian people,” he said.

His comments come as thousands of Haitians gathered daily this week in cities and towns across the country to demand that Mr Henry step down, saying they will keep protesting until he leaves.

On Wednesday, police killed five armed environmental protection agents in the capital Port-au-Prince in a shooting some worry could worsen Haiti’s crisis.

Mr Henry once again pledged to hold general elections, saying he would continue to reach out and work with all those who want the country to move forward, “to take decisions together that are going to help us emerge from the crisis.”

Protesters said they wanted Mr Henry to step down by February 7, the date Haitian leaders are typically sworn into office. 

The date also carries deep historical significance in Haiti. On that date in 1986, former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier fled for France, and in 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, was sworn in.

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