Haiti names new cabinet, in strong shift from previous government

By Harold Isaac

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) -Haiti's administration picked new ministers on Tuesday, rounding out the new prime minister's cabinet, in a stark departure from the previous government as the country battles a deep humanitarian crisis fueled by armed gangs.

The cabinet, announced nearly two weeks after Prime Minister Garry Conille himself was named to his post, trims the number of ministers while replacing all who served in former Prime Minister Ariel Henry's cabinet. Many of the new picks were drawn from outside Haiti's political class altogether.

Haiti's prolonged social and political crisis has deepened since a presidential assassination in 2021 threw the Caribbean nation into upheaval. Gangs have expanded their control over the country while displacing thousands of civilians.

In the new cabinet, the prime minister will also serve as interior minister, controlling much of Haiti's security forces as well as intelligence gathering.

Conille returned as prime minister after a brief stint in the role more than a decade ago. He was most recently a top official with the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF.

The justice ministry will be headed by Carlos Hercule, a lawyer who formerly headed the Port-au-Prince bar association along with serving as a member of an electoral council set to pave the way for Haiti's next elections.

He will oversee a paralyzed judicial system and the country's embattled police, who have been fighting the powerful gangs.

Princeton-educated Ketleen Florestal, who has advised multilateral lenders, takes over the finance ministry from Michel Patrick Boisvert, who also served as interim prime minister this year.

Florestal will also lead the planning and international cooperation ministry, which oversees development.

The defense ministry will be led by Jean Marc Berthier Antoine. He will oversee Haiti's small army that was disbanded in 1995 but reinstated seven years ago.

Foreign affairs will be taken over by Dominique Dupuy, Haiti's ambassador to the U.N.'s cultural agency, UNESCO. She will also lead the ministry in charge of Haiti's vast diaspora, largely living in the United States and Dominican Republic.

Dupuy was briefly tapped by a group linked to former Prime Minister Claude Joseph to join the transition council that has taken over certain presidential powers to rule alongside Conille until the next elections - but she stepped down, citing threats.

The education and communications ministries, meanwhile, will be jointly taken over by Antoine Augustin, a university professor and supporter of the 2021 Montana Accord, a political movement which opposed the previous government of Henry.

Separately, Conille's office said he had met on Tuesday with U.S. ambassador Dennis Hankins, with whom he had discussed U.S. support for a long-delayed security force set to bolster Haitian police in its fight against gangs.

(Reporting by Harold Isaac in Port-au-Prince; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Rod Nickel and Stephen Coates)