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Political divisions mark Martelly’s 100 days
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New president faces strong opposition that has even struck down his choices for prime minister.

President Michel Martelly’s 100th day in office Aug. 22 was marked by the fact that he faces strong opposition from lawmakers for the reforms he promised in his campaign, and even his choices for a prime minister, to be accepted.

The 50-year-old took office May 14 promising to root out corruption and get the devastated country back on its feet more than 18 months after a deadly earthquake struck in January 2010.

Martelly’s Farmers’ Response party holds just three of the 99 seats in the lower house and zero of 30 Senate seats. Parliament is dominated by the Unity party of former President René Préval, who governed from 1996 to 2001 and from 2006 to 2011.

Lawmakers rejected the former musician’s choices for prime minister: businessman Daniel Rouzier and lawyer Bernard Gousse. They argued that Rouzier was not qualified for the position and cited concerns over human rights accusations against Gousse stemming from his 2004-2006 stint as justice minister. Under Haitian law, if the president lacks a majority in Congress, he or she must designate a prime minister who is endorsed by Congress. It is the first time since Haiti returned to democracy in 1986 that a president has been unable to gain approval of his candidate.

The stalemate has drawn the attention of the international community, which has noted little improvement to the situation facing the country since the earthquake, with thousands still living in tent cities.

José Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, said in an Aug. 12 communiqué that the country’s need to rebuild makes the approval of a prime minister all the more urgent and called on the opposition parties to increase their efforts to ensure that Martelly’s government works.

In mid-August, Martelly’s administration announced it will submit a new candidate to Congress, although it did not provide a name, to replace the interim prime minister, who has been in the post since 2009, Jean-Max Bellerive.
—Latinamerica Press.

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