New government formed in restive Haiti

Police outside the hospital where Haiti's Prime Minister Garry Conille was briefly hospitalized in Port-au-Prince. [AFP]

A new government was formed in Haiti on Tuesday, tasked with restoring security and stability in the Caribbean nation that is ravaged by gang violence and political chaos.

The decree appointing members of the new cabinet was published in Haiti's official gazette, two weeks after the country's transitional government council named Garry Conille as interim prime minister.

Conille served as Haiti's premier for a short period in 2011-2012, and was until recently regional director for UN aid agency UNICEF.

He will now also serve as minister of the interior, according to the published government list.

Dominique Dupuy, the current representative of Haiti to UNESCO, will be in charge of foreign affairs.

Haiti, in serious turmoil for several years, is finalizing its transitional authorities who will seek to pave the way to the first elections since 2016, but their power appears limited in the face of well-armed and lawless gangs.

Former prime minister Ariel Henry, appointed just before the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, failed to address the nation's spiraling troubles.

He announced in early March that he would step down and hand executive power to the transitional council.

 Gang rule 

The job before Haiti's new leaders is monumental as they confront the crises devastating the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Gang violence has long been widespread, but at the end of February armed groups launched coordinated attacks on strategic sites in the capital Port-au-Prince, saying they wanted to overthrow the unelected and unpopular Henry.

The violence has affected food security and humanitarian aid access, with much of the city in the hands of gangs accused of abuses including murder, rape, looting and kidnappings.

Last year a UN-backed security force, to be led by Kenya, was promised as a boost to struggling Haitian police, but it has not yet been deployed.

Kenya's President William Ruto has said the deployment would likely start within a few weeks.

Kenya is to send 1,000 officers for the mission alongside personnel from several other countries.

Conille visited the international airport in Haiti's capital on Saturday, praising the efforts of the security forces which had enabled flights to resume after being halted for more than three months due to gang attacks.

He was then admitted to hospital briefly for a reported asthma attack before being released on Sunday.

Haiti has had no president since the assassination of Moise in 2021 and it has no sitting parliament.