By PETER PRENGAMAN and IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writers
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s U.S.-backed advisory council picked a former U.N. official and international business consultant as the new prime minister Tuesday, two leading opposition politicians told The Associated Press.
The appointment of Gerard Latortue, also reported by Haitian radio stations, was a step toward forming a transitional government and eventually organizing elections in this troubled nation.
The decision came as loyalists demanding the return of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide set up flaming barricades and stoned cars, and the U.S. Marines said they will begin helping Haitian police disarm rebel groups.
Also, the U.S. military announced a second death caused by American Marines, who, with French Legionnaires, form the vanguard of a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
An official announcement on the prime minister was expected early Wednesday, but two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Latortue was the final choice.
The council was chosen to pick the new prime minister, who — along with interim President Boniface Alexandre — will try to build a new government for Haiti.
Latortue, who served as foreign minister in 1988 to former President Leslie Manigat, was set to replace Prime Minister Yvon Neptune. He still must formally accept the offer, and it was unclear if he was in Haiti or Florida, where he was living.
Neptune stayed in his post even after his boss, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, fled the country Feb. 29. Aristide opponents have demanded that Neptune be replaced.