Haiti’s Transitional Council Names New Cabinet Amidst Gang Violence

June 12, 2024 by No Comments

Haiti’s transitional council appointed a new Cabinet on Tuesday, completing the process of rebuilding the government tasked with leading a nation besieged by gangs.

Government spokeswoman Kettia Marcellus confirmed the existence of the new Cabinet and its ministers to .

Carlos Hercules, the attorney for Prime Minister Garry Conille, was appointed as minister of justice and public security. Conille himself will serve as interior minister. Jean Marc Berthier Antoine will take on the role of defense minister.

Haiti grapples with gangs that control at least 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The country is preparing for the deployment of a U.N.-backed police force from Kenya, anticipated in the coming weeks.

Weeks of coordinated attacks by gangs forced former Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign in April, leading to the dissolution of his Cabinet. Gunmen seized control of police stations, opened fire on the main international airport, which remained closed for nearly three months, and stormed Haiti’s two largest prisons. The first three months of the year saw over 2,500 people killed or injured, and over half a million displaced as Haiti prepares for the U.N.-backed deployment of a from Kenya expected in the coming weeks.

Conille has vowed to crack down on the violence.

Dominique Dupuy, a UNESCO ambassador who previously served on the transitional council before resigning, will be foreign affairs minister. Her resignation was partly due to political attacks and death threats.

The new Cabinet includes four women. Critics point out that has minimal female representation. One woman with non-voting powers sits on the transitional council, and no women were considered for the position of prime minister.

“It is an insult to the 6 million women and girls in Haiti whose participation is necessary for the transition’s success,” said Pascale Solages of Nègès Mawon, a Haitian feminist organization.

The new prime minister has publicly acknowledged the importance of women’s participation in government.

“In this pivotal moment in Haiti’s democracy, we are being given nothing but a chance to watch men make decisions from the observer seat,” said Rosy Auguste Ducena of the National Human Rights Defense Network.

Other members of the new Cabinet include Ketleen Florestal, minister of economy and finance. She takes charge as Haiti faces deepening poverty, with inflation reaching nearly 30% in recent years. Gang violence has forced businesses to close, leading to widespread job losses. Florestal previously worked at the World Bank as an advisor to the executive director for Haiti.

Antoine Augustin will serve as education minister. Hundreds of schools in Port-au-Prince remain closed due to gang violence.

Michael Deibert, author of “Notes From the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti,” and “Haiti Will Not Perish: A Recent History,” highlights the relative obscurity of many of the ministers appointed to the new Cabinet.

“There is a smattering of people with international experience…but still, there are not a lot of immediately recognizable high-level names from within Haitian politics,” he said. “Some people might think that’s a good thing.”

He noted that while Dupuy will oversee one of the more important ministries, and that the composition of the Cabinet is an improvement over that of the council, “which appears not to be of the modern world, quite frankly, it’s still a low representation of women given how many ministries there are.”

It remains unclear when the new Cabinet will be sworn in.

The work of the transitional council, however, is not finished. It is responsible for appointing a provisional electoral commission, a prerequisite for holding general elections. The council’s non-renewable mandate expires on February 7, 2026, when a new president is scheduled to be sworn in.