HAITI CRISIS- TRANSITION COUNCIL FORMED?: 2 GANG LEADERS KILLED AS MORE ATTACKS RAVAGE CAPITAL, PORT-AU-PRINCE

Attacks flared in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, including a shootout that left another gang leader dead, as political groups appeared to get closer to finalizing a transition council set to take over from an absent government.
A police operation killed the head of the Delmas 95 gang, Ernst Julme, known as Ti Greg, a day after another gang leader was killed in an apparent resurgence of a vigilante justice movement.
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.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed reports that political groups had selected all members of a transitional council set to assume presidential powers ahead of future elections. The council, intended to bring together Haiti’s fractured political class, is mandated to appoint a replacement to de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who announced his resignation on March 11 as gang violence prevented his return to the country.
The transition plan was brokered in Jamaica by the Intergovernmental Caribbean Community (CARICOM), alongside representatives of Haiti’s government and opposition. The nine-member council was initially expected to be finalized within a couple of days, but some Haitian political factions were unable to unite behind one representative.
Cherizier has threatened reprisals against politicians and their families if they take part in the proposed council.
As the council seemed to be nearing completion, heavy gunfire was heard on Thursday near the National Palace of 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.
The state has been largely absent during the violence and police are ill-equipped against heavily armed criminal groups seeking to expand their territorial control of the capital city. Plans for an international security mission, requested by Henry in 2022, remain on hold.
The U.N. 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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