US ‘actively’ seeking leader for Haiti force, Blinken says

0 5

The United States remains active in its search for a country to head a multinational force in troubled Haiti, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday, without offering Washington’s lead.

Blinken met Wednesday at a Caribbean summit with Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and again spoke of the urgency of an international force in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, where gangs have taken over broad stretches of territory.

But no country has stepped forward despite nearly a year of calls for the force by Henry and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“We’re in very active conversations with countries in the region and beyond about such a force and we’re in active conversations, of course, at the United Nations about what it might do to give a force the proper imprimatur from the international community,” Blinken told reporters in Guyana, his second stop on a regional tour.

“Part of this involves making sure that countries step up to play important roles in such a force, particularly identifying a country that would play a leading-nation role,” Blinken said.

But he declined to offer such a role for the United States, which has a long history of intervention in Haiti, and instead reiterated US support for building Haiti’s fledgling national police.

US President Joe Biden — who ended America’s longest war in Afghanistan — has made clear he has no intention of putting US troops at risk in Haiti.

Blinken met Henry at the Caribbean summit in Trinidad and Tobago, where the top US diplomat also called for renewed efforts to hold elections in Haiti.

Haitians have not voted since 2016, with the last elected president, Jovenel Moise, assassinated in July 2021. Henry has promised to step down after a new government is installed in February 2024, although election targets have repeatedly slipped in Haiti.

Speaking next to Blinken, Guyanese President Irfaan Ali said there was progress on Haiti at the Caribbean summit, with Kenya and Rwanda — whose president, Paul Kagame, was in attendance — offering support for the police force.

A group of former leaders, including former prime ministers Bruce Golding of Jamaica and Kenny Anthony of Saint Lucia, agreed to work with both Henry and other Haitian stakeholders on a political transition, Ali said.

“Prime Minister Henry is committed to broadening this transitional government,” Ali said.

©️ Agence France-Presse

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.