New setback for Haiti’s pop star turned president

By Joseph Guyler-Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Wed Aug 3, 2011 12:20am EDT

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Lawmakers rejected Haitian President Michel Martelly’s new choice for prime minister on Tuesday, blocking his efforts to install a government and move ahead with rebuilding a country shattered by last year’s earthquake.

Sixteen members of the 30-seat Haitian Senate voted to reject Bernard Gousse, a controversial lawyer and former justice minister. The vote capped a rancorous day-long debate in the upper house of the impoverished nation’s parliament.

It was the second rejection of Martelly’s choice for premier in less than two months and marked a messy start to his young presidency. His first choice for the prime minister’s post, economist and businessman Daniel Rouzier, was rejected by the chamber of deputies on June 21.

Martelly, a former pop star, came to office with no previous political experience. He was elected in March on populist promises to turn Haiti into a Caribbean success story after decades of crushing poverty and dictatorship.

Martelly’s background as an irreverent and successful star of Haiti’s catchy Kompa carnival music helped bolster his support among voters fed up with politics as usual in Haiti.

The rejection of Gousse, who served in an interim government that came to power in the politically volatile nation in 2004, came as little surprise after 16 members of the Senate signed a recent public statement opposing his selection as prime minister.

The same 16 senators voted against Gousse on Tuesday night, dashing his chances to head Martelly’s government.

Gousse has been accused by critics of once leading a crackdown against backers of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a popular former Roman Catholic president seen as a champion of the poor.


The current parliament is dominated by supporters of former President Rene Preval, a one-time Aristide ally, and many still swear a loose allegiance to Aristide himself.

“We want to vote for a new government to address the population’s urgent problems,” said Senator Joseph Lambert, a leader of the INITE Party, which controls parliament.

“But we have to have a prime minister who is able to talk to all sectors and has not been accused of human rights violations,” he said.

It was not immediately clear what Martelly might do next to gain the upper hand in his showdown with parliament. He has warned that a rejection of Gousse means it could take another six months to put a new government in place.

Diplomats and donors of international aid to Haiti, much of which has not yet been disbursed since pledges were made after the 2010 earthquake, say the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country urgently needs to get a new administration up and running to advance its halting recovery.

The quake killed tens of thousands of people and wrecked much of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Concern about political deadlock in Haiti is shared by major donor countries led by the United States, which has said a stable government in Port-au-Prince is key to forging ahead with future reconstruction and development projects.

Pressing tasks in Haiti include effectively fighting a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 6,000 people since October, and providing shelter from life-threatening winds, floods and landslides as the annual hurricane season moves into full force later this summer.

(Reporting by Joseph Guyler-Delva; Writing by Tom Brown; Editing by Todd Eastham)


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5 thoughts on “New setback for Haiti’s pop star turned president

  1. What is really going on in the case of Haiti?
    That is really simple to undestand?
    But, we need to know the history of this country.
    Haiti is a real challenge to the world.
    None will realize the real fact.
    But, what will happen at last?
    The deal was done many years ago.The battle between colors,colonialists,wealthiests, poorests,capitalists, communists, terrorists are in effect in that country.
    What could be the result?
    More than 7,000,000 of Haitians will died.A selection of color,and other criterias will be consider to allow citizens of Haiti to live in.After less than 30 years, there will be no black citizens in Haiti.

    Wait and see.

  2. Hate to see another cholera epidemic in Haiti. Now they also have a hurricane coming their way.

  3. Like I said, I dont think anything productive will be done with a hand-shake, and some signing of papers. Haiti is in big trouble. Haiti may have to get rid of these people. I am realy sorry to say we need this haitian parliament gone. Also our constitution is trash! I am pretty sure it is written by elite contries that do not have Haiti’s interest in mind. This remind me of when Haiti was invaded in 1915 by the U.S. The U.S made all the rules. What I am saying is this current constitution was not written for Haitians, but to please Europe. Haiti is a nation in the western hemisphere, but without western mentality, and that is not a bad thing its just different. Therefore, can not have a constitution created for westerners. I want to add Haiti do not have the competance, nor the money to run a capitalist economy. Mercantilism, socialistic, merchant economy should be brought to the table to calculate a economical formula design especialy for Haiti. We dont have the same resources as the U.S, we dont have the same population, technology, educated population as the U.S, therefore we should not copy the U.S way of running a market. The U.S. Way of running a market is not even working for the U.S. In this global scale, so they are recalculation. When it comes to all of our problems we need to do things our way (what is good for us!) in order to succeed.

  4. Je doute fort que Martelly pourra faire passer un premier ministre de son choix.  Ce précédent d’hier a malheureusement créé un prétexte pour le GPR pour réfuter quelque soit le PM désigné par Martelly a moins que Martelly parvienne a créé  une nouvelle majorité dans les 2 chambres.  Le GPR sera toujours puissant jusqu’aux prochaines législatives.  Pour le moment il est incontournable.  Ils ne sont pas pressé.  Ils ont entamé une guerre d’usure avec Martelly au détriment du pays.  Je souhaite que Martelly ne succombe pas a ce chantage en instituant un gouvernement d’urgence pendant que les débats continuent.  

  5. Le débat d’avant hier au Sénat Haïtien a été historique mais les sénateurs du GPR ont créé un dangereux précédent.  Ils faut respecter les procédures de débat comme prescrit par les règlements internes du sénat. Comme exemple patent, le respect et  la prise en comte des arguments du parti minoritaire.  Le GPR a ignorer complètement des arguments de valeurs des sénateurs Latortue et Anique (..qui ont été a la hauteur et offert des arguments percutants..) au détriment de la crédibilité du votre final.  Le sénateur Joisil a été décevant et par son manque de maturité les débats ce sont terminer en que de poisson.  Il aurait due reprendre  et retourner le rapport et recommander la ratification de Gousse pour avancer les débats dans la phase de présentation de la politique générale.  Mais, il n’a pas voulu prendre ce risque et il a choisie de créer un dangereux précédant. Malheureusement tout est a refaire.  Ce vote peut se révéler nul et non avenu.  Sur papier il a eu   Seulment 16 sénateurs présents et votant non.  Ceci mais sérieusement en péril de ce vote final qui paraît  frauduleux en surface.   Comme je disais plus haut, le GPR aura créé un très dangereux précédent si ce vote passerait pour final.

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