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Haiti gang leader calls for dialogue as Kenyan police patrol the streets

Jimmy Chérizier, a former elite police officer known as Barbecue who leads the G9 and Family gang, speaks to journalists in the Delmas 6 neighborhood of Port-au-Prince   -  
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Odelyn Joseph/Copyright 2024. AP All rights reserved

Haitian politics

Kenyan police officers were seen patrolling outside the US embassy building in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince on Friday.

Wearing their usual uniform of body armor and helmets and holding automatic weapons, they smiled at people asking questions, and one officer responded, "We are here to bring peace, of course, not to fight."

The Kenyan police officers are the first U.N.-backed contingent of foreign police to arrive in Haiti, nearly two years after the troubled Caribbean country urgently requested help to quell a surge in gang violence.

Meanwhile, not far from the embassy, Jimmy Cherizier, a former elite police officer who now leads a powerful gang federation known as G9 Family and Allies, set up a microphone in the street for an impromptu press conference.

Cherizier, best known as Barbecue, criticized Prime Minister Garry Connille, accusing him of not opening dialogue with the G9 Family and the alliance that he represents.

"Let's focus on the solution; the real solution is a national dialogue where every Haitian without discrimination has the right to speak," he said.

"We want dialogue because we don’t want war. We want dialogue because we want peace.”

This time, Cherizier abandoned his usual uniform and guns in favour of a flashy red suit.