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Haiti Prime Minister Conille praises new police commander in battle against vicious gangs.

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image credit: Arise News

Haiti’s Prime Minister Garry Conille said Thursday that the decision to replace the national police director was driven by the need to give security personnel a “new lease on life” in the face of gangs terrorizing the populace.

Rameau Normil was named director-general of the embattled Caribbean nation’s police department on Wednesday, succeeding Frantz Elbe.

“We took steps to make a change at the head of the police because we felt the time was right to give the institution a new lease of life, a new energy,” Conille said during a news conference.

“Meeting the difficulties of insecurity is a shared duty. “The population must feel involved in the process of restoring security,” he added, pledging more contact between civilians and law enforcement.

Conille also said that he had talked with Kenyan officials and that they were keen to collaborate, alluding to a UN-backed security mission from Nairobi intended to strengthen Haiti’s police, which has yet to materialize.

He also said that he will develop a national anti-corruption plan, adding that “up to 30% of state employees receive salaries while absent; we must immediately address this.”

Gang violence has always plagued Haiti, but the situation deteriorated in late February when armed groups initiated assaults in the capital, Port-au-Prince, asking for the removal of unelected and unpopular Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Henry declared in March that he would stand down and pass over authority to a transitional council, which was formed in late May and appointed Conille as its temporary head.

The UN International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday that over 580,000 Haitians had left their homes as a result of gang violence, a 60% increase since March.

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