The most powerful man in Haiti is not the President – it is the Prime Minister. Under the Haitian Constitution, the Prime Minister holds absolute control of the purse strings, appointment of members of the Cabinet, and control over lower level Government appointments.
In a battle reminiscent of Republicans holding up Democrat appointments in the US – the Haiti Senate has roadblocked President Martelly’s appointments to the Prime Minister position since President Martlelly took office in May. Two candidates have been outright rejected.
What this has meant for the country is that reconstruction of the major infrastructure has been at a complete standstill. There has been virtually no work done on any of the critical systems in the country, other than that done by the sheer guts and perspicacity of the local citizenry. Announcements of various projects, or international investments and aid have been largely symbolic, as since the resignation of the previous Prime Minister there has be no one in the Haitian Government with the authority to sign a contract on behalf of the Government of Haiti.
So the appointment and ratification by the Haitian Congress of Dr. Cornille is being greeted warmly by the international and local Haitian communities. Hopefully – nearly 2 years after the devastating earthquake.
Haiti’s Senate confirmed the nomination of Garry Conille, an advisor to former US president Bill Clinton, to be the country’s prime minister.
Conille, a 45-year-old physician by training, was the third candidate put forward by President Michel Martelly for the post in a bid to end a three-month long impasse over the makeup of his fledgling government.
Seventeen senators voted in favor of Conille’s candidacy, three voted against it and nine abstained during the hours-long session.
Conille’s selection was approved by the lower house of parliament last month.
Senate president Rodolphe Joazile announced that the candidacy had been ratified, but Senator Joseph Lambert of the opposition UNITE party said the body had not given Conille a “blank check” and that he should also seek a vote of confidence from the two chambers of parliament.
The prime minister in Haiti is appointed by the president and mainly serves as cabinet chief.
Conille has been serving as chief of staff to Clinton who, as the UN special envoy for Haiti, is a key player in deciding how the impoverished country will spend millions of dollars in international reconstruction aid.
Conille was educated in Haiti and received graduate training in health administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Fulbright scholar.
He has also worked as the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) resident representative for Niger.
Martelly, a popular former singer elected by a wide margin, was sworn in as president of Haiti on May 14 but has not yet put his government in place amid resistance from the opposition-dominated parliament.
Martelly vowed to “change Haiti” upon taking office, promising to restore order and confidence in a country struggling to emerge from one of the most destructive earthquakes of modern times.
Much of the capital was leveled in a 7.0-magnitude quake in January 2010 that killed more than 225,000 people and left one in seven homeless in a nation that was already the poorest in the Americas.
The pace of reconstruction has been painfully slow for hundreds of thousands of traumatized survivors who lost everything and are forced to live in squalid tent cities around the still-ruined capital.
UN aid chief Valerie Amos called for continued humanitarian assistance to Haiti on Thursday, stressing that it was still a country in crisis.
Visiting the country during a two-day evaluation mission, Amos said the 600,000 people still living in camps have urgent needs for basic food, water, sanitation and housing services.
The humanitarian situation has been further aggravated by a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 5,000 people, food insecurity for 4.5 million and an active hurricane season that has already destroyed homes and crops.