November 30, 2023

The secretary-general of Haiti’s High Transition Council (HCT), Anthony Virginie Saint-Pierre, has been kidnapped according to the head of the committee which has been tasked with creating a roadmap for elections which have been penciled in for next year.

Haiti, which last had elections in 2016 and has been without elected representatives since January, is facing a humanitarian crisis driven by powerful gangs who control large parts of the capital and have kidnapped hundreds of people.

Local media reported, citing HCT head Mirlande Manigat, that Saint-Pierre was kidnapped around noon in the Debussy neighborhood of the capital Port-au-Prince by heavily armed men dressed as police officers.

In nearby Petion-Ville, local media said clashes had taken place between Haiti’s national police and members of the Kraze Barye gang.

A year ago, the government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested urgent help from an international armed force to help under-resourced police fight gangs. Despite a U.N. ratification earlier this month, such a force has yet to materialize.

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Henry came to power after the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, which created a political vacuum allowing gangs to expand their territories. He has pledged to hold elections once security conditions are re-established.

The U.N. estimated in early September at least 970 Haitians have been kidnapped this year.

(Reporting by Harold Isaac; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Valentine Hilaire and Anthony Esposito)

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