Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry Wednesday launched a full-scale cabinet reshuffle to include some opposition figures within his administration in an attempt to achieve some stability in a country still trying to recover from the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse plus a devastating earthquake, the COVID-19 pandemic and also some gang violence.
Henry has agreed last September with an opposition group to work together to guarantee some political stability and Wednesday's appointments are said to stem from that accord.
Jean-Victor Géneus is to replace Claude Joseph as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Joseph played the role of acting Prime Minister in the hours following Moïse's killing by a multinational commando at his Port-au Prince residence on July 7.
The appointments come as Haiti struggles with increasing violence, kidnappings and ongoing fuel shortages attributed to powerful gangs that have blocked gas distribution terminals.
You accepted this under difficult conditions, Henry told his new cabinet. He appointed nine ministers to a variety of positions, including foreign affairs, economics, justice, education, and health.
Upon announcing his new team, Henry condemned the ongoing violence and called on the criminals to lay down their arms, or else: they will be neutralized.
Moïse's murder has worsened the country's socio-political and economic crisis.
Henry said his administration is doing the best it can to ensure public safety with the resources it has. “We are doing the maximum with the funds that we have available to restore the authority of the state and put away the ones that need to be put away,” he said. “One of the main responsibilities of this government is to create a safe and stable environment.”
The Prime Minister also warned criminals ”will end up in prison or they risk losing their lives”.
Haiti is struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings, including the October 16 abduction of 17 missionaries with ties to an Ohio-based religious organization. Two of them were released on Sunday, although no further details were provided. “As we rejoice about the two hostages who were released over the weekend, we continue to pray for the 15 who are still in captivity,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement on Wednesday.
Regarding the fuel shortages and spiralling prices, Henry said the government has invested tens of thousands of dollars to subsidize gas but it afford to hold this situation much longer. He said he would address the issue shortly.
He also urged the new health minister to launch a campaign and encourage more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.