Haiti transition council walks back PM nomination, exposing divide

FILE PHOTO: Daily life in Port-au-Prince after Haiti transition council names new leadership

By Harold Isaac

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - The majority of Haiti's transition council who had nominated an interim prime minister earlier this week has walked back the decision, exposing the internal turmoil of the group charged with leading the Caribbean nation out of a prolonged crisis.

Late on Wednesday, four of the council's seven voting members issued a statement saying they will go back to an original agreement to choose a prime minister from a pool of applicants, after having tapped former official Fritz Belizaire for the job.

In recent years, Haiti's political and social order has suffered repeated setbacks, from a presidential assassination to a major earthquake, aggravating a power vacuum increasingly filled by armed gangs vying for power.

Violence on the island nation has spiked in recent months, with more than one person killed in gang violence every hour over the first three months of this year, according to United Nations data.

On Tuesday, the majority bloc within the council tapped Belizaire as prime minister, with former Senate leader Edgard Leblanc picked to head the council.

A public vote had been expected to take place for both posts, but did not happen.

The four members who reversed course on the prime minister nomination call themselves the "Indissoluble Majority Bloc," and by Thursday afternoon they had not put forward a potential replacement.

The Montana Accord group, a faction which holds a seat on the council, has called for a rotating council presidency. Its representative, Fritz Jean, said in a Thursday radio interview that disagreements remained over the scope of the council president's role, with some believing it would act as interim president of the nation.

The council has also been tasked with appointing a cabinet and establishing a provisional electoral authority charged with paving the way to Haiti's first elections since 2016.

A vote for a new president is expected by early 2026.

(Reporting by Harold Isaac in Port-au-Prince and Kylie Madry in Mexico City; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Richard Chang)