Haiti's new leader vows unity, says he's 'very honored' in first statement since being selected


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Garry Conille, Haiti’s new prime minister, said Wednesday that he was “very honored” to be chosen for the post, in his first statement since a transitional council selected him to lead the troubled Caribbean country under siege by gangs.

Conille thanked the civil society groups, political parties and members of the Haitian diaspora who proposed him as a candidate.

“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.

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.

While the transitional council has not issued a formal statement about Conille, council members told The Associated Press late Tuesday that six of seven members with voting powers had selected him. Laurent St. Cyr, the seventh member, is not in Haiti currently and as a result did not vote.

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.

It was not immediately clear if there would be a formal swearing-in ceremony for Conille.

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement that she wished Conille “every success in bringing much-needed peace, stability and hope to the children of Haiti.”

Conille was not the first choice for some council members.

In late April, a four-member coalition within the council made an unexpected announcement that they had chosen former sports minister Fritz Bélizaire as prime minister. The move threatened to fracture the council, with dissenting members insisting that proper procedure be followed.

As a result, the council announced it would accept nominations for prime minister, and it received dozens of names. However, none of them was made public, and the council has been criticized for its lack of transparency, including not sharing what criteria it was applying when choosing a leader.

The council also is tasked with choosing a new Cabinet and appointing a provisional electoral commission, a requirement before elections can take place. The council’s non-renewable mandate expires Feb. 7, 2026, when a new president is scheduled to be sworn in.