Haiti’s President Announces 2nd Choice for Prime Minister

Posted July 6th, 2011 at 8:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Haitian President Michel Martelly has chosen a lawyer and former justice minister to be the country's next prime minister, making a second attempt to fill that key government post.

President Martelly Wednesday picked Bernard Gousse for the job. Some lawmakers say Gousse will not win the backing of legislators because he is a bad choice.

Other lawmakers say Gousse was responsible for the arrests of high-profile supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide after the ex-president was ousted in 2004. Mr. Aristide returned to Haiti earlier this year after seven years in exile.

Last month, Haitian lawmakers rejected President Martelly's first choice for prime minister, Daniel-Gerard Rouzier. Some accused him of tax evasion, a charge he has denied. Others raised questions about his business dealings and citizenship.

Without a prime minister, Mr. Martelly, who took office in May, has not been able to form a government to begin to address the extensive challenges facing the country.

Haiti was crippled by a January 2010 earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people and left 1 million others homeless. Many still live in tent camps, and millions continue to rely on non-governmental organizations to meet their basic needs. Mr. Martelly also faces the political challenge of working with a legislature controlled by former president Rene Preval's opposition party.

Additionally, a cholera outbreak that started last October has been responsible for the deaths of about 5,500 people. Haiti is the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.