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A drone view of the Jalousie neighbourhood after former President of the Senate Edgard Leblanc was named to lead the transitional council, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, April 30, 2024.

REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo

Who is Haiti’s new PM? Even Haitian heavyweights don’t know

Haiti’s transitional council unexpectedly elected obscure former Sports Minister Fritz Bélizaire as prime minister on Tuesday, dividing the council 4 to 3. Gangs, meanwhile, threaten chaos if they are excluded from government.

Didn’t Haiti just get a new PM? Yes, Michel Patrick Boisvert, the well-known finance minister, briefly took the premiership after Ariel Henry stepped down last week.

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An armed vehicle is seen near the National Penitentiary following violent clashes in the capital that have damaged communications and led to a prison escape from this main penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti March 3, 2024.

REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

Haiti jailbreak sows chaos

Haiti declared a state of emergency Sunday after armed gangs stormed Haiti’s largest prison Saturday night, setting around 3,700 of convicts free and killing many others. Notorious former police officer turned gang kingpin Jimmy Chérizier, aka “Barbecue,” claimed responsibility for the attack, which forced police unions to call for reinforcements on social media.

The attack was part of a coordinated assault that included Haiti’s international airport and two police stations, forcing the closure of businesses and schools, and prompting the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince to temporarily halt all official travel to the country.

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Italian PM Giorgia Meloni during a press conference in Rome.

LaPresse / Roberto Monaldo/Sipa via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Meloni’s migrant moves, a cartel for rainforests, Haiti’s hope for fuel

Meloni draws a line on migrants

Since becoming Italy’s prime minister two weeks ago, Giorgia Meloni has pushed back against media attempts to portray her as a far-right nationalist euro-skeptic troublemaker. Aware that Italy needs cash from the EU, she’s presented her government as ready to negotiate with Brussels on outstanding issues in good faith. She’s made clear her support for Ukraine and NATO. Yet, she does stand ready to strike a harder line on migration policy as asylum-seekers continue to arrive by boat. (Italy has already received 85,000 migrants from across the Mediterranean this year.) On Sunday, two rescue ships that made port in Sicily were told that children and people with medical problems were allowed off the ships, but able-bodied men were not considered “vulnerable” and must remain on board. The ships were then ordered to leave, but their captains refused to budge. Rights groups and Italian opposition politicians say Italy’s decision violates EU law and the Geneva Convention. Meloni knows that many Italians expect a harder line on asylum policy and that greenlighting the entry of all migrants encourages more people to take the risky journey across the Med. This standoff is just the beginning of the Meloni government’s battle with EU officials and aid groups over an issue that provokes strong emotions on both sides.

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