Haiti Gang Leader Calls for the Overthrow of Prime Minister Henry

The leader of a federation of nine Haitian gangs is calling for the removal of Prime Minister Ariel Henry from office, adding that it could be done “at the cost of blood”.

The leader of the G9 Family and Allies, Jimmy Cherizier, known as “Barbecue” told a news conference last week that the United Nations and the United States should cut ties with the government in order to help “liberate Haiti".

“We take this opportunity to invite the United Nations in general and the so-called friendly countries of Haiti, in particular the United States of America, to register in this page of history as loyal allies who want the well-being of the Haitian people by divorcing the status quo,” Cherizier said.

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Media reports said that G9 controls entire sections of the capital of Haiti and have been accused of assassination and mass killings, including the murder of infants.

Cherizier, who has denied the allegations, has repeatedly called for the resignation of Prime Minister Henry, blaming him for much of the unrest in the country.

Cherizier, a former police officer, has also accused Prime Minister Henry of taking part in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, who was shot and killed at his private residence on July 7. Moise’s wife, Martine, had to be flown to the United States for treatment after being injured during the shootings.

Police have held several people, including former Colombian army officers, but the main suspect, Joseph Felix Badio, Is still at large.

Cherizier has joined in calls for the investigation of Moise in the killing after mobile phone calls between Henry and Badio became public. The calls were made on the night of the assassination.

Henry has denied the reports insisting that on the night of the assassination he had spoken to several people.

The statement by Cherizier calling for the removal of Prime Minister Henry comes as efforts continue to negotiate the release of 17 members of a missionary group from the United States, abducted by the 400 Mawoze gang, which is demanding US$17 million for their release.

The gang’s leader, Wilson Joseph, has threatened to kill the group, which includes five children if the ransom is not paid.

Meanwhile, UNICEF is warning that school children in urban areas are increasingly becoming the targets of those engaged in the kidnappings here.

UNICEF said that since the start of the school year in September, at least seven schools in and around Port-au-Prince have already been forced to pay armed gangs in exchange for safety, and others have been threatened.

Most of them are located in areas of the city controlled by gangs. The amount of money the gangs are asking for is usually equivalent to the tuition fees of three students per class.

“In areas controlled by the gangs, school directors and teachers are constantly under threat and, if they refuse to pay, their schools come under attack,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Across the capital city, more and more fear at school means less and less learning. Gangs are rapidly turning temples of knowledge into theatres of violence.”

Rising threats and acts of gun violence forced some school directors to relocate their schools to other areas out of the control of the gangs.

UNICEF is urging everyone to respect education facilities and wants the government to ensure security in and around schools and take firm action to address gang violence against children.