Ariel Henry was celebrating Haitian Independence Day on Saturday when gunfire erupted in the northern city of Gonaives.
Gunfire erupted in the northern Haitian city of Gonaives local media reported, forcing the country’s prime minister to cancel a speech in celebration of the Caribbean nation’s independence day.
However, gunfire broke out between armed civilians and security forces, Le Nouvelliste said, and Henry could not, as planned, give a speech at a public square in the city on Saturday.
Local media reported that one person died and two were injured in the gunfire that forced Henry and others to dive and seek shelter as they walked out of the cathedral.
As part of the celebration of the 218th anniversary of national independence, I am currently taking part with my Chief of Staff and several members of the government in the traditional Te Deum taking place in Gonaïves at the Saint Charles Church of Borome. pic.twitter.com/dCWhHxuFHO
– Dr Ariel Henry (@DrArielHenry) 1 January 2022
Translation: To celebrate the 218th anniversary of national independence, I am currently taking part in a traditional Te Deum at Saint Charles de Borome Church in Gonaives with my Cabinet Director and several members of the government.
A spokesman for Haiti’s national police told the Associated Press on Monday that police had secured the area.
Haiti seized by boom gang violence and ransoms for ransom, especially in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince, as the country sinks into deeper political instability after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July.
Henry, who took office less than two weeks after Moise was assassinated also struggled with legitimacy, with leading Haitian rights activists rejects the prime minister’s push hold elections despite the uncertainty plaguing the nation.
Powerful armed gangs also have called on Henry to retire.
On January 1, the streets of Gonaives were largely empty, as was its cathedral, for the traditional Independence Day celebrations.
In a tweet, Henry referred to the weekend incident by thanking the bishop of Gonaives for keeping the mass “despite the tense situation that prevailed in the city”.
In 2020, Moise skipped the trip to Gonaives amid threats from violent protests And Le Nouvelliste said Henry’s attendance at the mass was “an act that no political authority has been able to do in the last four years”.
In a statement in Haitian Creole shared on Twitter on Sunday, Henry said: “Today we are enemies, the enemies of the Haitian people, the terrorists who do not hesitate to use force to kill people with all their might, or “to kidnap, they take away their freedom, to rape them. And do everything for money.”
Henry het promise to strike on gangs blaming authorities for an increase in kidnappings and for blocking gas distribution terminals in a move that has caused a severe fuel shortage in recent months.
The deteriorating security situation asked the United States and Canadian governments in November to urge their citizens to leave Haiti.
In addition to gang violence, the country has struggled to rebuild in the wake of a devastating, 7.2 magnitude earthquake which struck in August. Dozens of people were also killed in a recent fuel tank explosion in the northern city of Cap-Haitien.