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Haiti transitional council selects new prime minister for country

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.N. development specialist Garry Conille was named Haiti’s new prime minister Tuesday evening, nearly a month after a coalition within a fractured transition council sought to choose someone else for this position.

The long-awaited move comes as gangs continue to terrorize the capital 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 of the seven voting council members chose Conille earlier Tuesday. He said one member, Laurent St. Cyr, was not in Haiti and therefore did not vote.

Conille has served as UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean since January 2023 and served as Prime Minister of Haiti from October 2011 to May 2012 under President Michel Martelly. He replaces Michel Patrick Boisvert, appointed interim prime minister after the resignation by letter of Ariel Henry at the end of April.

Henry was on an official trip to Kenya when a coalition of powerful gangs launched coordinated attacks on February 29, taking over police stations, shooting up Haiti’s main international airport and storming the two largest prisons country, freeing more than 4,000 detainees.

Henry was excluded from the country because of the attacks, with the airport in the capital Port-au-Prince closed for almost three months.

Gang violence continues to rise in parts of the Haitian capital and beyond as Conille takes charge of the troubled Caribbean country, awaiting the UN-backed deployment of a police force from Kenya and other countries.

Conille studied medicine and public health and contributed to the development of health care in poor communities in Haiti, where he helped coordinate reconstruction efforts after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

He worked for several years at the United Nations before Martelly appointed him 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 with dual nationality, which is not authorized by the government. The Constitution of Haiti.

Conille has a daunting task ahead of him, having to quell rampant gang violence while helping lift Haiti out of deep poverty, with inflation reaching a record 29%, according to the latest available data. In recent years, gangs that control at least 80% of Port-au-Prince have forced more than 360,000 people from their homes and continue to control major roads linking the capital to the northern and southern regions of Port-au-Prince. Haiti, often paralyzing the transport of essential goods. goods.

Conille’s selection as prime minister comes just weeks after former Haitian Sports Minister Fritz Bélizaire was chosen for the position in late April by a four-member coalition on the nine-member transition council, in a surprise announcement that angered many people. Critics said the proper procedure was not followed as dictated by the executive who established the council, so a new process was launched to choose a prime minister, with dozens of names submitted for the position .

This lengthy process has been criticized by many, including the Montana Accord, a Haitian civil society group that has a representative on the council.

In a statement released Tuesday, the group accused the council of failing to take “consequential measures” since its installation because “the suffering of the population is worsening, while gangs take control of more territories and commit more crimes.”

He also accused the council of failing to be transparent when choosing a new prime minister, saying it did not publicly share the criteria used or the names submitted, among other things.

Liné Balthazar, president of the Tet Kale party, called on the council for transparency in an interview Monday with Magik9, a local radio station, and said the choice of a prime minister seemed improvised.

In addition to selecting a new prime minister, the nine-member council, seven of whom have voting rights, must also appoint a provisional electoral commission, a prerequisite for holding elections. The council’s non-renewable term expires on February 7, 2026, when a new president is expected to be sworn in.

In addition to choosing a new prime minister, the council is also responsible for selecting a new government and holding a general election by the end of next year.

The members of the council are Emmanuel Vertilaire of Petit Desalin, a party led by former senator and presidential candidate Jean-Charles Moïse; Smith Augustin for EDE/RED, party led by former Prime Minister Claude Joseph; Fritz Alphonse Jean of the Montana Accord; Leslie Voltaire for Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide; Louis Gérald Gilles for the December 21 coalition which supports former Prime Minister Ariel Henry; Edgard Leblanc Fils for the Collective of January 30, which represents parties including that of former president Michel Martelly; and Laurent Saint-Cyr for the private sector.

News Source : apnews.com
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