Haiti Names A New Acting Prime Minister, But Is ‘Transitional Council’ In Charge?

Photo credit: US Department of State. Dennis Hankins, the US Ambassador to Haiti was present at the appointment of the acting Prime Minister, perhaps an indication that the US is shepherding the process of reestablishing a functioning government in Haiti.
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Haiti’s “transitional council” has finally taken a small step towards a new government by appointing an acting  or interim prime minister. Former Finance Minister Michel Patrick Boisvert has been appointed as the interim prime minister.

How he intends to address the rule of armed gangs in the capital city of Port au Prince and surrounding areas remains to be seen, as photographs were issued with the council members raising what looked like glasses of champagne.

Ariel Henry, the prime minister who has been essentially barred from reentering the country for the past couple of months since his ill-fated trip to Kenya, cleared the way by formally signing a letter of resignation in Los Angeles.

That document was released yesterday in Haiti on the same day as the new transitional council was sworn in to choose a new prime minister and Cabinet.  It was not immediately clear whether Boisvert will stay in office or whether the transitional council will eventually name someone else.

Addressing a packed room that included the US ambassador to Haiti in the prime minister’s office hours later in the suburb of Petionville, Boisvert said that Haiti’s crisis had gone on too long and that the country now finds itself at a crossroads.

“After long months of debate … a solution has been found,” Boisvert said. “Today is an important day in the life of our dear republic.”

He called the transitional council a “Haitian solution,” and directing his remarks toward them, Boisvert wished them success, adding, “You are to lead the country to peace, to economic and social recovery, to sacred union, to participation.”

The council was installed after more than a month of delays after Caribbean leaders announced its creation following an emergency meeting to tackle Haiti’s crisis.

The nine-member council, of which seven have voting powers, is expected to help set the agenda of a new Cabinet. It also will appoint a provisional electoral commission, a requirement before elections can take place, and establish a national security council.

The council’s nonrenewable mandate expires February 7, 2026, at which date a new president is scheduled to be sworn in.

Gangs launched coordinated attacks that began on February 29 in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas. They burned police stations and hospitals, opened fire on the main international airport that has remained closed since early March, and stormed Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates. Gangs also have severed access to Haiti’s biggest port.

The onslaught began while Prime Minister Henry was on an official visit to Kenya to push for a United Nations-backed deployment of a police force from the East African country.

He apparently remains barred from re-entering Haiti.

“Port-au-Prince is now almost completely sealed off because of air, sea and land blockades,” Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s director, said earlier this week.

The international community has urged the council to prioritize Haiti’s widespread insecurity. Even before the attacks began, gangs controlled 80% of Port-au-Prince. More than 2,500 people were killed or injured from January to March, up by more than 50% compared with the same period last year, according to a recent U.N. report.

“It is impossible to overstate the increase in gang activity across Port-au-Prince and beyond, the deterioration of the human rights situation, and the deepening of the humanitarian crisis,” Maria Isabel Salvador, the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, said at a U.N. Security Council meeting.

In attendance at Boisvert’s swearing in Thursday was Dennis Hankins, the newly installed U.S. ambassador. He said Thursday’s events were an important step for Haiti.

“In crisis, the Haitians are able to do tremendous things, so we’re here to help them,” Hankins said. “We won’t be the solution, but hopefully we will be part of helping those finding the solution.”

As part of that, he said the U.S. government was working to enforce export controls on weapons, many of which have found their way to Haiti, fueling the violence.

“The fact that many of the arms that come here are from the United States is indisputable and that has a direct impact,” Hankins said. “It is something we recognize is a contributing factor to instability.”

At the United Nations Thursday, World Food Program Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau said Haiti is suffering from a security, political and humanitarian crisis that is causing acute food insecurity for some 5 million people, or about half the population.

The council members are Emmanuel Vertilaire for Petit Desalin, a party led by former senator and presidential candidate Jean-Charles Moise; Smith Augustin for EDE/RED, a party led by former Prime Minister Claude Joseph; Fritz Alphonse Jean for the Montana Accord, a group of civil society leaders, political parties and others; Leslie Voltaire for Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide; Louis Gerald Gilles for the Dec. 21 coalition that backs former Prime Minister Ariel Henry; Edgard Leblanc Fils for the Jan. 30 Collective, which represents parties including that of former President Michel Martelly; and Laurent Saint-Cyr for the private sector.

The two non-voting seats were awarded to Frinel Joseph, a pastor, and Regine Abraham, a former World Bank and Haitian government official.

Abraham said that gangs now control most of Port-au-Prince, tens of thousands of the capital’s residents have been displaced by violence, and more than 900 schools in the capital have been forced to close.

“The population of Port-au-Prince has literally been taken hostage,” she said.

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