A deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti to help quell gang-fueled lawlessness is on hold until a new government is formed in the Caribbean nation, officials in Kenya said Tuesday, as leaders tried to figure out a difficult question: Who is going to run Haiti?

Kenya had agreed to send a security force to Haiti, but that deal had been reached with Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who on Monday night agreed to step down once a new transitional government is formed.

Haiti’s embattled prime minister announced his intention to resign after being stranded for days in Puerto Rico following a gang takeover of much of the Haitian capital that made it impossible for him to return.

His decision followed several days of violent attacks on police stations, hospitals, prisons, the main airport, seaport and other state institutions and brought more uncertainty to an already chaotic situation in the Caribbean country, which has been convulsed in recent months by an extraordinary wave of gang violence.

Political actors in Haiti met behind closed doors to negotiate membership of the transitional government, which is expected to be created in the coming days.

But the process was met with criticism both abroad and in Haiti, where many people denounced a lack of transparency that smacked of international meddling and backroom deal-making.

Nearly three years after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Haiti finds itself in a demonstrably worse situation: leaderless, mired by political infighting and plagued by a scourge of murders and kidnappings.

The Biden administration found itself having to explain why it backed a leader that had more support abroad than at home. Mr. Henry, who was appointed prime minister, had become widely unpopular among many Haitians because of his inability to protect people from gangs and his apparent reluctance to hold elections.

“The international community banked on Ariel Henry, and that was a major mistake,” said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia. “So now we are essentially back where we were three years ago, but with a deteriorating situation of such proportion that virtually every institution in Haiti has collapsed or is on the verge of collapsing.”

Mr. Henry, 74, a neurosurgeon who had lived in France for nearly 20 years, led the country’s public health response to a 2010 cholera outbreak. He also worked in the interior ministry. A veteran of two previous presidential administrations, he was a member of the opposition party when Mr. Moïse tapped him to become prime minister in 2021.

But Mr. Moïse was assassinated days after that nomination, and Mr. Henry was never formally voted in by the legislature.

Haiti’s electoral system is in such disarray that no elections have been held in eight years. With no Parliament in office to choose a new prime minister, many Haitians saw Mr. Henry’s time in power as illegitimate.

He came under fire during the investigation into the president’s assassination, when prosecutors revealed that Mr. Henry had spoken on the phone with one of the people accused of being a mastermind of the killing. Mr. Henry denied any involvement in the crime and fired the prosecutor.

But the Biden administration and other countries supported him, which helped Mr. Henry assume power — and keep it.

With his departure, Kenyan officials say they will wait until a new governing body is in office before deploying officers to take on the gangs. The deal still stands, but is on pause, said Salim Swaleh, a top spokesman for Kenya’s Foreign Ministry.

“We will require a sitting government to also collaborate with,” Mr. Swaleh said. “Because you don’t just deploy police to go on the Port-au-Prince streets without a sitting administration.”

The mission was sanctioned by the United Nations and largely financed by the United States, which on Monday pledged to provide more aid.

The deployment had already been delayed by Kenyan court rulings, but an agreement that Mr. Henry and Kenya signed was meant to eliminate the last remaining legal obstacle so the mission could proceed. Mr. Henry had traveled to Kenya earlier this month to sign the agreement.

But gang leaders took advantage of Mr. Henry’s absence to take to the streets and sow more bedlam. Instead of fighting each other, they joined forces to fight the government. Orchestrated attacks on two prisons set thousands of inmates free. Gunfire at the main airport in Port-au-Prince, the capital, forced the suspension of flights. Homes were ransacked and looted across the city.

Every day brought reports from the United Nations of civilians cut down by gang fire.

The gangs threatened civil war if Mr. Henry did not step down.

Leaders from Caribbean nations who have led the push to create a transitional presidential council that would lead Haiti after Mr. Henry’s departure, met in Jamaica on Monday to plot a course for elections. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken also took part in the discussions to lend the Biden administration’s support.

With Haitian political leaders participating by Zoom, the group, led by a regional bloc called Caricom, agreed on a transitional council that would be made up of seven voting members and two nonvoting observers representing various factions in Haiti, including opposition parties, the private sector, the religious community and civil society organizations, according to a statement from Caricom.

Anyone who is under indictment, being sanctioned by the United Nations, intends to run in the next election or opposes the Kenya mission would be excluded.

That plan immediately drew rebuke from those who would be shut out. The political organization backing Guy Philippe, a former coup leader who served time in a U.S. prison for money laundering, insisted that he should be the country’s next leader. A prominent business group said that it had not been consulted.

Monique Clesca, a women’s and democracy activist who was a member of a group that tried to come up with a plan to address the country’s problems, called some of the wording in the agreement “meddling” and “humiliating.”

She was particularly critical of a requirement that any member of the council had to support the Kenya mission.

“I don’t understand why is it that Caricom, or the United Nations, or the U.S., Canada and all the ones in the room are imposing that,” Ms. Clesca said.

Other Haitian politicians active in the discussions did not respond to requests for comment. It was unclear Tuesday who would actually select the council’s members, but several parties said they had submitted names to the regional Caribbean body.

Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, said that any solution would have to come from Haitians.

“What happens now is not a decision for the United States,” Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Miller said that the United States expects that members of the transitional council will be appointed within the next 24 to 48 hours. Those members will then quickly appoint an interim prime minister, he said.

Mr. Miller, in a briefing in Washington, pushed back against questions over whether Washington was orchestrating the creation of a new Haitian government.

“Our goal all along has been a transition to democracy and trying to achieve a stable security situation on the ground so that Haitian political leaders have the room to make the tough choices they need to make,” he said, “so they can transition to democracy and have free and fair elections that aren’t marred by gang violence.”

A transitional council made up of different members of Haitian society with competing interests who will be forced to negotiate to ensure that their decisions are inclusive is a positive development, said Emmanuela Douyon, a Haitian policy expert and social justice advocate who moved to Boston for her safety in 2021.

“They will have to negotiate,” Ms. Douyon said. “We can expect that whatever is decided is not the choice of only one person without any accountability, without any consideration for what might be good for the country.”

Louis Laurent Jumelle, a 31-year-old Haitian businessman who was kidnapped for 10 days last year, said Haitians were tired of the political process.

“The majority of people are saying, ‘Why get involved when the script is already written?’” he said.They have seen this before. There is a sense that Haitians are fed up with the international community, and they are fed up with us.”

Reporting was contributed by Michael Crowley in Washington; Andre Paultre in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Emiliano Rodríguez Mega in Mexico City.

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