Haiti’s New Prime Minister Vows to Seek Unity After He Is Selected by Transitional Council

Haiti’s newly chosen Prime Minister Garry Conille vowed to seek unity Wednesday in his first statement since a transitional council selected him to head the government in the troubled Caribbean country under siege by criminal gangs.

Conille thanked the civil society groups, political parties and members of the Haitian diaspora who proposed him as a candidate, saying he was “very honored” to have been chosen.

“Together, we will work for a better tomorrow for all the children of our nation,” he wrote on X, the social media platform, in Haitian Creole.

Conille submitted his resignation Tuesday as UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, a post he has held since January 2023. He previously served as prime minister of Haiti from October 2011 to May 2012 under then-President Michel Martelly and was former chief of staff to Bill Clinton in the ex-president’s role as U.N. special envoy to Haiti.

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. He also served as a U.N. development specialist before becoming a regional director with UNICEF.

He now faces a monumental task, with Haiti under siege by gangs that control at least 80% of the Port-au-Prince capital as the country awaits the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from Kenya and other countries supporting the mission.

The prime minister shares executive power with the presidency, which has been vacant in Haiti since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. whose death left a power vacuum that criminal gangs began to take advantage of later that year.

In addition to choosing the prime minister, the transitional council is tasked with arranging presidential elections before early 2026.

Council members told The Associated Press late Tuesday that six of seven members with voting powers had selected Conille for the prime minister role. Laurent St. Cyr, the seventh member, is not in Haiti currently and as a result did not vote.

On Wednesday, they issued a statement noting that Conille was one of five prequalified candidates that they interviewed for one hour each on Tuesday, and that they are now working with him to choose a new Cabinet.

“The transitional presidential council renews its firm determination to do everything possible to stem the phenomenon of insecurity and lead the country on the path to free, fair, democratic and inclusive elections,” it said.

Conille will replace interim Prime Minister Michel Patrick Boisvert, who has been helping lead the country since former Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned via letter in April following a surge in gang violence. Gunmen launched coordinated attacks on Feb. 29, seizing control of police stations, opening fire on the main international airport that remained closed for nearly three months and storming Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates. The wave of violence continues.

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