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Top gang leader threatens politicians, jail ablaze

A powerful gang leader in Haiti has issued a threatening message aimed at political leaders who take part in a still unformed transition council for the country, which has been rocked by escalating violence in recent weeks.

Since unpopular, unelected Prime Minister Ariel Henry said on Monday that he would step down once the council was in place, capital Port-au-Prince has been quieter.

However, earlier today a fire broke out at its main prison, according to media reports.

Videos showed thick black smoke billowing from the jail, from where earlier this month armed men freed the inmates.

It could not immediately be established if any people remained in the jail or what sparked the blaze.

The Caribbean nation is struggling to resolve a long-running political and social crisis that has displaced thousands of people as the heavily-armed gangs tightened their grip on the capital.

The comments, by gang alliance head Jimmy “Barbeque” Cherizier, were distributed via a rambling seven-minute audio message shared on WhatsApp.

“Don’t you have any shame?” he said, directing his remarks at politicians who he said were looking to join the council.

“You have taken the country where it is today. You have no idea what will happen.

“I’ll know if your kids are in Haiti, if your wives are in Haiti … if your husbands are in Haiti,” he said in an apparent threat to their families. “If you’re gonna run the country all your family ought to be there.”

In his remarks, the gang leader said the resignation of Mr Henry was only “a first step in the battle.”

Regional bloc CARICOM has detailed the political parties and other social sectors set to make up the nine-member transition council that will take over the running of Haiti.

Negotiations over the council were brokered by Caribbean leaders and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, but formal appointments are yet to be made.

UN working on aid airlift for Haiti

The United Nations has said it is working on establishing an aid airlift to Haiti that will bring much needed supplies into the country.

The helicopter connection will involve “flying in and out between Dominican Republic and Haiti,” the secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, correcting his earlier statement that it was already operational.

“It’s bringing in some supplies. It’s also taking some UN staff out and bringing other UN staff in,” he added.

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