Home News Haiti appoints new prime minister to lead country out of crisis

Haiti appoints new prime minister to lead country out of crisis

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Garry Conille, an experienced international aid official, was unanimously appointed as Haiti’s prime minister by the presidential transition council on Tuesday, tasked with leading the country out of the current crisis until new presidential elections are held.

Mr. Cornely is assuming the new post as a UN-backed security mission led by Kenyan police is planning to begin operations in the violence-torn Caribbean nation as it struggles to restore political stability and combat armed gangs that control large parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Mr. Cornille, who speaks English, French and Creole, has worked for the United Nations and other aid agencies for 25 years and briefly served as prime minister of Haiti more than a decade ago during another crisis following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

But Cornille has spent much of the past few years abroad, and his potentially rusty domestic political skills will surely be tested by the highly volatile situation he will face as prime minister.

He will not, however, have to face any political battles with Haiti’s divided parliament, which has been vacant for months as the country has been unable to hold elections amid violence and unrest.

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

A physician by training who also holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina, Mr. Cornely helped coordinate reconstruction efforts after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which the government says killed 316,000 people.

Then, in 2011, he became prime minister, but resigned just four months later after a conflict with then-President Michel Martelly over a corruption investigation into contracts to rebuild the state.

Cornille, 58, succeeds Michel Patrick Boisvert, who was named interim prime minister after Ariel Henry resigned in late April after gang violence shut down Port-au-Prince’s international airport, effectively blocking him from returning to Kenya to sign a U.N.-backed security mission.

Kenyan police are expected to travel to Haiti next month on a monumental mission to help restore order in a country where gang violence has left more than 4,000 people dead or injured this year alone.

U.S. military planes loaded with civilian contractors and supplies have begun landing in Haiti, paving the way for a seven-nation security mission that will be funded in large part by a $300 million pledge from the Biden administration.

Mr. Corneille will assume responsibility for running the country along with the Transitional Council, which was appointed to fill the void left by Mr. Henry. The nine-member Transitional Council has some presidential powers and is appointed to run the country until elections are held and a new president is chosen, expected to take office in early 2026.

Haiti has been without a president since armed men broke into Jovnel Moise’s bedroom and shot him dead in front of his wife in July 2021. Jovnel Moise’s murder is still under separate investigation in Haiti and Florida, with a trial scheduled for January in Miami.

Five people, including two former Colombian soldiers, have pleaded guilty in the United States and received life sentences.

Mr. Cornely has worked for the United Nations for the past 25 years, serving in Africa and the Caribbean and also in senior positions at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. His most recent position was as UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean since January 2023.

Andre Poulter Reporting from Port-au-Prince also contributed.

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