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Caribbean leaders say Haitian PM agrees to hold long-awaited elections

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Children and their guardians gather outside a police station after they fled their homes in Cite Soleil due to gang violence, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Feb. 12.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Children and their guardians gather outside a police station after they fled their homes in Cite Soleil due to gang violence, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Feb. 12.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana >> Caribbean leaders said late today that embattled Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has agreed to hold general elections by mid-2025 as the international community pushes to raise money for a foreign armed force to fight gang violenc there.

Members of the Caricom regional trade bloc issued a statement at the end of a four-day summit in Guyana saying Henry agreed there is a need to hold elections and work with the oppositiosaid and civil society groups to achieve that goal.

The statement said that all stakeholders in Haitian society, including Henry, will have to make concessions to allow for elections and the restoration of democracy in an impoverished country that has no elected officials in power.

“Caricom heads expressed their deep concern over the continued deterioration of the security, humanitarian and political situation and the continued delay in overcoming the political stalemate, which have blocked the possibility of free and fair elections,” the statement bloc said.

“Caricom heads underlined the critical and immediate need for a clear political path forward which should be participatory and inclusive.”

An assessment team will be created by the U.S., Canada and the United Nations to help Haiti prepare for elections.

A spokesman for Henry’s office declined to comment. Henry was en route to Kenya after leaving Guyana, officials said.

Henry has repeatedly pledged to hold elections ever since being sworn in as prime minister after the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, but he and other officials say gang violence has not allowed them to move forward on those promises.

The situation in Haiti is “truly terrible,” Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis said at the summit’s closing news confeence. “Haiti is hemorrhaging. … We are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of the security situation.”

He said Caricom will soon host a meeting in Jamaica of key Haitian stakeholders as the region strives to find a political solution for the country.

Meanwhile, a U.N.-backed deployment of a Kenyan police force to Haiti has faced legal obstacles in that East Africn nation, with a court ruling the plan unconstitutional.

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