June 23rd, 2024

Transitional council in Haiti selects new prime minister for a country under siege by gangs

By Dánica Coto, The Associated Press on May 28, 2024.

FILE - Haiti's then Prime Minister Garry Conille speaks with journalists after a press conference in Port-au-Prince, Oct. 6, 2011. Conille was named Haiti’s new prime minister, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, File)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Garry Conille was named Haiti’s new prime minister Tuesday evening, nearly a month after a coalition within a fractured transitional council had chosen 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, who is UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, 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.

Henry was locked out of the country by the attacks, with the airport in the Port-au-Prince capital remaining shuttered for nearly three months.

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.

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

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