Haiti: Prime Minister Conille resigns

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille offered his surprise resignation Feb. 24 after just four months in office, amid tension between the premier and government ministers over issues of dual nationality.

The resignation opens a new chapter in Haiti’s political turmoil as the country struggles to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Conille resigned after clashes over an investigation launched by lawmakers concerning foreign passports held by senior government officials, including President Michel Martelly. Haiti does not recognize dual nationality.

Martelly said in an address to the nation late Feb. 25 that he had accepted the resignation but that he regretted the move coming “at a time when the country is taking off.”

Martelly vowed to “rapidly” nominate a successor, and said he had assured “our partners of the international community” that he had taken measures “to allow the state to operate normally.”

Conille had publicly supported the lawmakers’ investigation into the nationalities issue against the advice of his ministers, who lined up behind the president and refused to answer inquiries.

The investigation was launched by Senator Jean-Charles Moses, a fierce Martelly opponent who claims the president has U.S. and Italian nationalities.

Disagreements over the probe led to a marked deterioration in relations within the administration, and Conille grew increasingly isolated in his position.

The move brings back political turmoil to Haiti as Martelly’s administration struggles to ramp up stalled reconstruction efforts following the massive earthquake two years ago that leveled much of the capital Port-au-Prince.

In Haiti, the prime minister is appointed by the president and mainly serves as cabinet chief. Haiti’s parliament approved Conille’s appointment last October, temporarily ending months of political crisis. He had been Martelly’s third choice for prime minister since the president took office last May but was the first approved by parliament.

The process of appointing a new prime minister and forming a government could take months, as Martelly does not have a majority in parliament.

Conille, a physician by trade, 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 also has worked as the United Nations Development Program’s resident representative for Niger.

[AFP, 25/02/2012; Miamiherald.com (Haiti), 25/02/2012]

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