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Shootout in Haiti kills gang leaders

Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince continues to see attacks as the move is on to finalise a transition council to govern that country. However, Thursday saw a shootout which left another gang leader dead.

Dead is the head of the Delmas 95 gang, Ernst Julme, known as Ti Greg who was killed in a police operation, one day after another gang leader was killed in an apparent resurgence of a vigilante justice movement, as confirmed in a Reuters report.

The report also revealed that a member of gang leader Jimmy “Barbeque” Cherizier’s “Viv Ansanm” alliance, Julme’s death marks a setback for gangs’ moves to take over more parts of the city. Julme had recently escaped from Haiti’s largest prison in a mass jailbreak.

The move is for the council to bring together Haiti’s fractured political class to appoint a replacement to de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who announced his resignation on March 11 as gang violence prevented his return into the country. Stakeholders have already nominated representatives to the Transitional Presidential Council.

CARICOM released a list of political groups that would be represented in the council after a transition plan was negotiated in Jamaica. The nine-member council was initially expected to be finalized within a couple of days of Henry’s resignation, but some Haitian political factions were unable to unite behind one representative.

One party rejected the plan altogether then backtracked, while groups left out of the plan criticized the return of politicians from previous administrations seen as corrupt.

Cherizier has threatened reprisals against politicians and their families if they take part in the proposed council.

Heavy gunfire was heard on Thursday near the National Palace off the Champ de Mars square in downtown Port-au-Prince, while people fled fresh shootings in the capital’s Petion-Ville suburb.

On Wednesday suspected gang members in Petion-Ville, which has been under attack over recent days, were killed and set on fire – including one leader known as Makandal – in what appeared to be a resurgence of a civilian vigilante movement known as Bwa Kale. However, Reuters was unable to verify this even while it was said to have been reported in local media.

Plans for an international security mission, requested by Henry in 2022, remain on hold. The UN and other international bodies and embassies have been evacuating staff and other foreigners by helicopter because Haiti’s main airport is not secure.

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