Conille gets Crucial Nod in Haiti
Dr. Garry Conille, the latest nominee for prime minister, receives a critical nod from Haiti’s lower house of parliament
Miami Herald, by Jacqueline Charles, 17 Sep. 2011
Haiti’s lower chamber of parliament Friday unanimously endorsed the selection of a senior United Nations official chosen by President Michel Martelly to lead the quake-ravaged nation as prime minister.
Deputies voted 89-0 in favor of Dr. Garry Conille, a 45-year-old Haitian physician who serves as resident coordinator for the U.N. Development Program in Niger, putting him steps closer to filling a four-month-long political vacuum in Haiti.
Next, a majority of senators must vote to confirm him.
Conille called the overwhelming show of support from the lower house strong sign from Haitians that they want to end months of political stalemate that has cost the country millions in foreign donor aid as it still grapples with quake damage and also deals with a deadly cholera epidemic.
“I think it is a sign we have to put the country first, that we have to work together to move things forward,” Conille told The Miami Herald from Port-au-Prince.
Earlier in the day, Conille got a crucial nod going into the confirmation hearing when a nine-member commission charged with evaluating his qualifications for the job reported back that he does and should be confirmed.
“He is a man of dialogue,” said Deputy Levaillant Louis-Jeune, who presided over the commission in the lower house. “So far he has met every group and every political party represented in the parliament.”
Conille has been prominent as the assistant to former U.S. President Bill Clinton in his role as U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti and co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.
Martelly nominated the doctor for the post earlier this month, a controversial choice with some lawmakers who cast it as a bid by the international community to gain more of a foothold in Haiti. Others view his selection as guaranteeing support as Haiti struggles to recover from the earthquake and encourage foreign investment.
The commission’s tasks included examining the authenticity of four passports that Conille submitted, among other documents, to determine whether he met the technical requirements of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution. Among them: Is he Haitian? Has he paid taxes? Did he have five years consecutive residency in the country prior to his nomination.
Parliament rejected Martelly’s two previous choices for prime minister, and the political stalemate stirred frustration and exhaustion, and cost an earthquake-ravaged Haiti more than $100 million in foreign aid.
Conille has insisted that he’s not the international community’s candidate, but someone who has benefitted from his years in the United Nations to help lead Haiti through challenging times.
He also argued — and the commission agreed — that his diplomatic status, special visa and Haiti’s U.N. membership meant that he has remained a resident of Haiti and fulfilled his obligations, including paying taxes.