Haiti's long wait for prime minister ends

Gary Conille's appointment as prime minister is ratified by the Haitian senate by 17 votes to 3.

    President Michel Martelly's two earlier nominees for the post were rejected by the Haitian senate [EPA]

    The long wait for Haiti to approve a prime minister has ended, with the senate voting in favour of Garry Conille to run the government.

    Tuesday's 17-3 vote for Conille to serve as the caribbean nation's prime minister will enable Michel Martelly, the president, to install a cabinet and jumpstart reconstruction efforts that have been slow to since last year's powerful earthquake.

    Nine senators abstained in the vote.

    Conille was Martelly's third pick as prime minister as his two earlier nominees for the post were rejected by parliament since he took office in May.

    "Congratulations to the senate that they ratified our choice,'' Lucien Jura, Martelly's spokesman, told the Associated Press news agency.

    "There will be a government to implement the Martelly vision that the country needs. The senate made a
    decision that will improve the lives of the population,'' Jura said.

    Conille, a medical doctor, already has direct experience of helping to manage Haiti's rebuilding from the January 2010 earthquake.

    From March 2010 to June 2011, he served as chief of staff for the United Nations special envoy for Haiti, former US president Bill Clinton, helping to co-ordinate the UN and international earthquake response and the mobilisation and follow-through of donor commitments.

    At the time of his nomination for the prime minister role, Conille was serving as the resident representative and humanitarian co-ordinator for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in the West African state of Niger.

    He has a long career as a UN official, having started in 1999 as a project officer for the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) in Haiti.

    The debate to ratify Conille lasted six hours, as senators questioned Conille's residency qualifications, whose job took him out of Haiti for years.

    Government officials in Haiti are required to have spent five consecutive years in Haiti under the constitution but French and Haitian Creole versions of the document don't specify when the residency period begins.

    In the end, a group of senators from a majority coalition agreed Conille was eligible.

    In his new job, Conille will help lead reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake and will assume responsibilities as co-chair of a recovery panel with his former boss, Clinton.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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