Members of the transition council in Haiti appointed, one month after the announcement of the resignation of Ariel Henry

Nearly two months after the start of the crisis which plunged Haiti into chaos and pushed Prime Minister Ariel Henry to announce his resignation, the nine members of the presidential transitional council were appointed on Tuesday April 16 by an official decree published in the official newspaper, Le Moniteur. This body’s mission is to restore public order and ensure a political transition in this country plagued by gang violence, pushing nearly 100,000 Haitians to flee the capital Port-au-Prince.

This council was officially created on April 12 by a decree signed by the very unpopular Prime Minister, Mr. Henry. The latter announced his resignation in March while specifying that his departure will only be effective once this council is in place and has appointed a prime minister. The first decree also provides that the members of the presidential transition council must “rapidly” appoint a prime minister as well as an “inclusive” government. “The mandate of the transitional presidential council ends, at the latest, on February 7, 2026,” the document adds.

Without mentioning the names of the members, this first decree asked “personalities designated by stakeholders” to submit documents to the authorities for approval. This aroused fear among the nine political groups and parties represented in this council that the government could reject a certain number of them.

No elections in Haiti since 2016

The decree published Tuesday in Le Moniteur appears to partially respond to this concern, since it explicitly gives the names of the seven members, representing the main political forces and the private sector, and the two observers without the right to vote.

The members are: Smith Augustin (former diplomat); Louis Gérald Gilles (doctor and former senator); Fritz Alphonse Jean (former governor of the central bank of Haiti); Edgard Leblanc Fils (former President of the Senate); Laurent Saint-Cyr (entrepreneur); Emmanuel Vertilaire (lawyer) and Leslie Voltaire (former minister and diplomat). Evangelical pastor Frinel Joseph and former World Bank official Régine Abraham are appointed non-voting observer members.

However, the order states that members “shall be required to submit the necessary documents within a reasonable time, and if they are unable to do so, they shall be required to resign.”

The council is therefore expected to ensure a smooth transition when Mr. Henry – appointed days before the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse – leaves office, paving the way for a presidential election. Without a president or parliament, Haiti has not had an election since 2016. After two months of crisis, the capital is still 80% in the hands of criminal gangs, accused of numerous abuses, in particular murders, rapes, looting and kidnappings for ransom.