Transitional council in Haiti selects new prime minister

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Transitional council in Haiti selects new prime minister

U.N. development specialist Garry Conille was named Haiti’s new prime minister Tuesday evening, nearly a month after a coalition within a fractured transitional council sought to choose someone else for the position.

The long-awaited move comes as gangs continue to terrorize the capital of Port-au-Prince, opening fire in once peaceful neighborhoods and using heavy machinery to demolish several police stations and prisons.

Council member Louis Gérald Gilles told The Associated Press that six out of seven council members with voting power chose Conille earlier Tuesday. He said one member, Laurent St. Cyr, was not in Haiti and therefore did not vote.

Conille has been UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean since January 2023 and previously served as Haiti’s prime minister from October 2011 to May 2012 under then President Michel Martelly. He replaces Michel Patrick Boisvert, who was named interim prime minister after Ariel Henry resigned via letter in late April.

Henry was on an official trip to Kenya when a coalition of powerful gangs launched coordinated attacks Feb. 29, seizing control of police stations, shooting at Haiti’s main international airport and storming the country’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

Gang violence is still surging in parts of Haiti’s capital and beyond as Conille takes over the helm of the troubled Caribbean country awaiting the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from Kenya and other countries.

Conille studied medicine and public health and helped develop health care in impoverished communities in Haiti, where he helped coordinate reconstruction efforts after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The g ang violence has taken a toll on that system, however.

He worked for several years at the United Nations before Martelly designated him as prime minister in 2011. Conille resigned less than a year later following clashes with the president and his Cabinet over an investigation into government officials who have dual nationality, which is not allowed by Haiti’s constitution.

The selection of Conille as prime minister comes just weeks after former Haitian sports minister Fritz Bélizaire was chosen for the post in late April by a four-member coalition within the nine-member transitional council in a surprise announcement that angered many. Critics said proper procedure was not followed as dictated by the framework that established the council, so a new process was started to choose a prime minister, with dozens of names submitted for the post.