Garry Conille’s MILD interim presidency as gang violence increases in Haiti

  • The Transitional Presidential Council of Haiti will hold powers until a new president is elected and takes office, or until February 7, 2026, whichever comes first. 
  • The international community seems to be supportive towards Garry Conille’s administration and willing to offer aid.
  • Garry Conille’s administration will face different challenges, particularly from local armed groups and vigilante movements
Date: February 08, 2012 Place: Washington, DC Credit: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

Why is Garry Conille’s heat level MILD? 

Answer: Conille has been nominated as Haiti interim prime minister by the Transitional Presidential Council (TPC). 

Conille’s temperature is MILD after being nominated as Haiti’s interim prime minister by the TPC. Until April 2024, Ariel Henry led the country on an interim basis since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 and repeatedly postponed elections on the grounds of security issues. Under Henry’s administration, Haiti, already affected by gang violence, has descended further into chaos.

During the past years, Henry’s government has operated under an agreement concluded in December 2022. This Agreement set the goal of organizing elections in 2023 and aimed for a new government to come to power on February 7, 2024. However, the elections never took place, and even a temporary electoral council, as foreseen in the agreement, was never appointed. Consequently, on February 7, 2024, protests demanding Henry’s resignation spread throughout the capital. 

At the end of February, Henry traveled to Nairobi in an attempt to address the increasing violence, as the Kenyan government had agreed to lead a multinational police mission approved by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). However, the mission was blocked by the Kenyan High Court, which deemed it unconstitutional. After having reached an agreement with the Kenyan President, Henry was compelled to announce his resignation due to gangs seizing control of the capital and officially resigned on April 24, 2024.

Conille was then nominated as interim prime minister by the TPC and sworn in on June 3, 2024. The TPC, created by Decree on April 12, 2024, will hold presidential powers during the transition period until a new president is elected and takes office, or until February 7, 2026, whichever comes first. The mission of the Transition is to focus on the following main points: security, constitutional and institutional reforms, and elections. 

Who is changing Garry Conille’s temperature? 

Answer: Conille counts with the support of the international community yet armed groups and vigilante movements may oppose his administration.

The international community supports Conille, particularly the United States, the Caribbean Community and the United Nations, who have shown their support to promote stability and democracy in Haiti. The European Commission has announced that it will provide 20 million euros in humanitarian aid to Haiti, while the United States will give a total of 58 million dollars in humanitarian assistance for the country. Moreover, the UNSC authorized, through Resolution 2699, to form and deploy a Multinational Security Support mission with Kenya as a lead country, in close cooperation and coordination with the Government of Haiti.

However, at the national level, reactions are mixed. While many citizens welcome Conille’s appointment, local gangs present significant challenges. These armed groups are benefitting from the existing chaos and may resist efforts to restore order and security. Additionally, the rise of vigilante movements adds complexity to the current situation in Haiti.

There are around around 150 to 200 armed groups in Haiti, 23 of which operate in ​​Port-au-Prince and are divided into two main coalitions: G-Pèp, led by Gabriel Jean Pierre (alias Ti Gabriel), and the G9 Family and Allies, led by Jimmy Chérizier (alias Barbecue). These armed groups not only have the territorial control of most of the capital but also governance capabilities, mainly thanks to the access to firearms and the government’s inability to stop their expansion. Gangs, which started as an urban phenomenon, spread to rural areas in 2015, and the Artibonite department, where there are over 20 criminal organizations, registers the highest rate of killed, injured or kidnapped people in Haiti.

On February 29, 2024, ​​Port-au-Prince gangs united under the Viv Ansanm coalition, led by Barbecue. This new coalition launched coordinated attacks against different state institutions and strategic infrastructure across the city, including the international airport, to force Henry out of power. These armed groups openly oppose international intervention in Haiti and there is a risk that they could force Conille out of power too.

In 2023 a vigilante movement called Bwa Kale, which originated in Port-au-Prince but also spread to Artibonite and other departments, mobilized several hundred civilians who wanted to restore order and security by taking justice into their own hands through violent means.

What is driving Garry Conille? 

Answer: Conille’s motivation arises from a mix of personal ambition and a deep-seated commitment to Haiti’s future.

Conille is well-known by the international community due to the different positions he held within the UN agencies and INGOs and, especially, due to the fact that he was appointed as UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean in January 2023. He is also well-known in Haiti because following the 2010 earthquake, Conille served as Chief of Staff to the United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti, President William J. Clinton, who was in charge of coordinating the reconstruction of the country. Finally, Conille served as prime minister from 2011 until 2012 when he resigned. 

Conille is driven by a mix of deep-seated commitment to Haiti’s future and personal ambition. His successful career working with the UN and INGOs has given him expertise and a global perspective. As the new interim prime minister of Haiti, he has the opportunity to address the corruption problems that forced his resignation in 2012. Furthermore, Conille’s background in Haiti, especially his contribution to the rebuilding efforts following the 2010 earthquake, highlights his commitment to the nation’s recovery and its development. He can leverage his international connections and expertise to foster positive change, while ensuring his legacy as a pivotal figure in Haitian politics.

Nevertheless, Conille must be careful not to lose the support of the local population, who tend to distrust international aid and interventions due its inefficiency and unsuccessfulness in the past. Haitians’ skepticism results from the complex socio-political history of the country, since foreign interventions have often failed to bring about lasting positive change.

What does this mean for you? 

Answer: Conille’s administration has to stabilize Haiti and combat the growing power of gangs and vigilante movements.

Haiti is the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean region. As of 2023, approximately 60% of the population lived below the poverty line, with limited access to basic services. Since 2022, 362,551 people have been internally displaced mainly due to widespread violence across the country and the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti recorded 2,505 victims of killing and injury between January and March 2024. Due to this alarming scenario, some countries, including the United States and the European Union, have agreed to send aid. However, the main objective of this aid is to limit the number of migrants and refugees coming from Haiti as well as to contain the expansion of gangs in neighboring countries.

The creation of the TPC as well as Conille’s appointment as Haiti’s interim prime minister comes at a crucial time for the nation. Following Henry’s tumultuous administration, marked by unfulfilled promises of elections and escalating violence, Haiti is in urgent need of stable leadership. 

Conille’s administration’s top priority must be to regain control of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and start preparing for the next elections so that Haitians can choose their own leader and restore democracy. However, Conille’s administration will face many challenges, including gang violence, vigilante movements, widespread corruption, and extreme poverty. These issues require long-term strategies and cannot be fully resolved before the end of the TPC’s mandate.

Article authored by: Beatrice Carpani


The shared Account of RAIA members and Alumni