Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Wednesday swore in his new Cabinet more than four months after he assumed leadership of the nation following the assassination of former Haitian president Jovenel Moise.
The appointments come as Haiti struggles with a rise in violence, kidnappings and ongoing fuel shortages blamed on powerful gangs that have blocked gas distribution terminals.
“You accepted this under difficult conditions,” Henry told his new Cabinet.
He appointed nine ministers to positions including foreign affairs, economy, justice, education and health.
Among those appointed is Jean Victor Jeneus, who is to replace Claude Joseph as minister of foreign affairs and worship.
Joseph briefly served as acting prime minister after Moise was killed at his private home in the pre-dawn hours of July 7.
Henry warned that difficult decisions lay ahead given the complex situation in Haiti, and 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.”
Henry condemned the ongoing violence and called on criminals to lay down their weapons, or otherwise “they will be neutralized and will end up in prison or they risk losing their lives.”
Haiti is struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings, including the Oct. 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.
Henry also talked about the fuel shortages and rising prices, saying that the government has invested tens of thousands of dollars to subsidize gas, but that it cannot sustain that situation much longer.
He said he would address the issue in the near future.
In addition, Henry urged the new health minister to launch a campaign and encourage more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
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