Haiti’s transitional council appoints new Cabinet tasked with leading a country under siege by gangs

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s transitional council appointed a new Cabinet on Tuesday, marking the final step in rebuilding the government that will lead a country under siege by gangs.

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

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

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

Weeks of coordinated attacks by gangs forced former prime minister Ariel Henry to resign in April, and his Cabinet was dissolved. Gunmen took control of police stations, opened fire on the main international airport that remained closed for nearly three months and stormed Haiti’s two biggest prisons. More than 2,500 people were killed or injured in the first three months of the year and more than half a million others displaced as Haiti prepares for the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from Kenya expected in the coming weeks.

Conille has pledged to crack down on the violence.

Dominique Dupuy, a UNESCO ambassador who was once a member of the transitional council before resigning, will be foreign affairs minister. She resigned in part because of political attacks and death threats.

The new Cabinet has four women. Critics note that Haiti’s government barely has female representation. One woman with non-voting powers sits on the transitional council, and no women were interviewed for the post 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 that women should have their place 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.

Others in the new Cabinet include Ketleen Florestal, minister of economy and finance. She takes charge as Haiti has deepening poverty, with inflation reaching nearly 30% in recent years. People continue to lose their jobs due to gang violence, which has forced businesses to close. Florestal previously worked at the World Bank as adviser to the executive director for Haiti.

Antoine Augustin will be education minister. Hundreds of schools in Port-au-Prince remain closed because of gang violence.

One thing that stands out about many of the ministers appointed to the new Cabinet is the relative obscurity of their names, said Michael Deibert, author of “Notes From the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti,” and “Haiti Will Not Perish: A Recent History.”

“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 was not immediately clear when the new Cabinet would be sworn in.

The work of the transitional council, however, is not done. It is tasked with appointing a provisional electoral commission, a requirement before general elections can take place. The council’s non-renewable mandate expires Feb. 7, 2026, when a new president is scheduled to be sworn in.

Evens Sanon And Dánica Coto, The Associated Press