Haiti PM Conille touts new police chief in fight against violent gangs

Haiti's Prime Minister Garry Conille said Thursday that a decision to replace the national police chief was motivated by a need to give security forces a "new lease of life" against gangs terrorising the population.

Rameau Normil was appointed director-general of the troubled Caribbean nation's police force on Wednesday, replacing 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 at a press conference.

"Confronting the challenges of insecurity is a collective responsibility. The population must feel involved in the process of restoring security," he said, promising improved communication between citizens and the police force.

Conille also said he had spoken with Kenyan authorities and that they were eager to work together, referring to a UN-backed security mission from Nairobi designed to bolster Haiti's police, which has not yet materialised.

He also said he would create a national anti-corruption strategy, noting that "up to 30 percent of state employees receive salaries while being absent, we must immediately remedy this."

Gang violence has long wracked Haiti, but the situation worsened in late February when armed groups launched attacks in capital Port-au-Prince, calling for the overthrow of unelected and unpopular prime minister Ariel Henry.


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