Haiti appoints new prime minister to try to get the country out of the crisis

An experienced international aid official, Garry Conille, was unanimously named Haiti’s prime minister by a Presidential Transition Council on Tuesday, which tasked him with leading the country out of its current crisis until elections can be held for a new president.

Conille will take up his new role just as a UN-backed security mission led by Kenyan police is scheduled to begin operations in the violence-torn Caribbean nation, which is struggling to restore political stability and confront gangs. armed forces that control a large part of the territory. the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Fluent in English, French and Creole, Mr. Conille’s credentials include a 25-year career working for the United Nations and other aid agencies. He also briefly led Haiti as prime minister more than a decade ago during another period of crisis following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

But Conille has spent much of the last few years outside the country, and his perhaps rusty domestic political skills will surely be tested by the highly volatile situation he will face as prime minister.

However, he will not face any political battles with Haiti’s fragmented Parliament, which has remained vacant for months due to the country’s inability to hold elections amid violence and unrest.

“He’s a safe option to appease the international community, but he’s also spent the last two decades working primarily outside of Haiti in the U.N. system,” said Jake Johnston, a Haiti expert at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

A physician by training, he also earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina. Conille helped coordinate Haiti’s reconstruction efforts after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, which the Haitian government said killed 316,000 people.

Then in 2011, he became prime minister but resigned just four months later after clashing with then-president Michel Martelly over a corruption investigation related to contracts to rebuild the country.

Conille, 58, succeeds Michel Patrick Boisvert, who was named interim prime minister after Ariel Henry resigned from the position at the end of April. Mr Henry was forced to resign after gang violence effectively drove him out of the country, closing Port-au-Prince’s international airport and preventing him from returning from a trip to Kenya to sign a security deal. supported by the UN. mission.

Kenyan police officers are expected to travel to Haiti next month on a daunting mission to help restore order in a country where more than 4,000 people have been killed or injured in gang-related violence this alone. anus.

U.S. military planes filled with civilian contractors and supplies have already begun landing in Haiti, paving the way for the seven-nation security mission, funded largely by a $300 million commitment from the Biden administration.

Conille will assume responsibility for running the country alongside the transitional council, which was appointed to fill the void following Henry’s overthrow. The nine-member transitional council has some presidential powers and was appointed to run the country until elections can be held and a new president takes office, which is expected to happen in early 2026.

Haiti has been without a president since the July 2021 assassination of Jovenel Moïse by armed men who broke into his bedroom and shot him dead in front of his wife. His murder is still under separate investigations in Haiti and Florida, and a trial is scheduled for January in Miami.

Five people, including two former soldiers in Colombia, have already pleaded guilty in the United States and were sentenced to life in prison.

For the past 25 years, Mr. Conille has worked with the United Nations, serving in Africa and the Caribbean, and has also held senior positions in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. His most recent position, since January 2023, was regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

André Paultre contributed reporting from Port-au-Prince.

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