Amid Haiti’s turmoil, Garry Conille named Prime Minister

Haiti finds itself in the throes of political turmoil as a nine-member council overseeing the country’s transition selects Garry Conille as its next prime minister. This decision, announced on Tuesday, unfolds against a backdrop of escalating gang violence gripping much of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Conille’s return to the role of prime minister is not unprecedented. He previously served a brief tenure from October 2011 to February 2012 but resigned following clashes with then-President Michel Martelly. Now, Conille steps in to replace interim Prime Minister Michel Patrick Boisvert, who assumed office after the resignation of Ariel Henry in late April.

Garry Conille

The process of appointing a new prime minister has been fraught with challenges, marked by false starts and controversy. Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021, Haiti has grappled with political instability, compounded by the failure to conduct federal elections. Henry, appointed as an unelected official just days before Moise’s assassination, served as acting president but failed to organize a vote to replace Moise, exacerbating tensions.

In the absence of legitimate governance, gangs have capitalized on the power vacuum, seizing control over vast swathes of Port-au-Prince, including critical transportation arteries. The resulting violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of Haitians, with over 1,500 deaths and countless injuries reported in the first quarter of 2024 alone.

In March, amid mounting pressure, Henry announced his decision to step down as prime minister. However, confusion and skepticism have shrouded the process of selecting his successor. Last month, a disputed decision to appoint former sports minister Fritz Belizaire as prime minister was swiftly retracted following allegations of procedural irregularities.

Conille’s appointment, secured by a six-to-one vote, raises hopes for stability in Haiti. His background as a regional director for UNICEF in Latin America underscores his commitment to humanitarian causes. However, questions linger regarding the transparency and legitimacy of the transitional council’s decision-making process.

Critics, including the Montana Accord, a Haitian civil society group, have voiced concerns over the council’s lack of transparency and accountability. Amid mounting suffering and escalating gang violence, calls for decisive action to restore stability resonate across Haiti.

Yet, challenges persist as gang leaders, such as Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, express defiance towards the transitional council and its choices. As Haiti navigates this precarious transition, Conille’s appointment represents a pivotal moment in the country’s quest for political renewal and stability.