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Haiti political knot complicates governance: outgoing PM
by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Sept 4, 2011

Haiti's caretaker prime minister warned that day-to-day government in the quake-ravaged country has been snarled by a political impasse between the new president and an opposition-controlled parliament.

"Cohabitation is too sophisticated for Haiti," said Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive in an interview with AFP Saturday.

"The system is appropriate for countries that have strong, well organized political parties."

Nearly four months after Michel Martelly was sworn in as president of Haiti on May 14, the popular former singer, elected by a wide margin, has not yet succeeded in putting his own government in place.

He has twice proposed a prime minister, only to have a parliament dominated by the opposition reject his nominee, causing the search for a successor to Bellerive to stall while negotiations continue.

Haiti, meanwhile, faces a crush of problems arising from a devastating earthquake that killed an estimated 225,000 people, a cholera epidemic, endemic poverty and a fragile democracy, Bellerive said.

"Democracy is under construction in Haiti. Here we work without a net, and every day this democracy has to be invented anew," Bellerive said. "There are major challenges."

He pleaded for patience and understanding from the international community, a crucial source of aid and support for Haiti.

"President Martelly arrived in office without political support in Parliament (it has only two members from his party), so he must enter into a dialogue with the parliamentary groups," said Bellerive.

In the meantime, managing the daily business of government over the past four months has been hard, he said.

"Acting with coherence and preparing for the future has been complicated because there has been a problem of coordination with the new president. There have only been two cabinet meetings in four months," he said.

"When I look at the profile of the people who have already been chosen by President Martelly, they are much more to the right on a European scale than I am. It reflects the president's vision, which is much more rightwing than mine."

Martelly has told members of parliament that he intends to name Garry Conille, a United Nations official, as the new prime minister. But before making his choice official, he must put together a parliamentary majority to ratify it.

Conille, 45, is a physician who 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 currently heads former US president Bill Clinton's office as the UN secretary general's special representative for Haiti.

Conille was recently named resident representative of the UN Development Programme in Niger.

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