PORT-AU-PRINCE, (Reuters) – Haiti’s parliament yesterday rejected President Michel Martelly’s choice for prime minister, delivering an early political blow to the new Haitian leader.
The chamber of deputies voted 42 to 19 against the appointment of Daniel Gerard Rouzier, a 51-year-old economist and businessman.
Lawmakers did not give a specific reason for his rejection, but some questioned whether he had fully paid his taxes, an allegation Rouzier has dismissed. Others also raised issues about work he had done for the government of Jamaica.
Martelly, a popular musician with no prior government experience, was sworn in in April after a sweeping election victory.
But without a prime minister, he has been unable to assemble a government to take on the challenge of rebuilding the impoverished Caribbean country from a catastrophic earthquake last year that killed more than 300,000 people.
Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, is also grappling with an eight-month-old cholera epidemic that has left 5,400 people dead.
“Today is a sad day for Haiti,” Martelly told reporters. “But we can’t waste time. We are going to call on our teams to be here to start working and to find solutions to the people’s problems.”
Inite, the party of former President Rene Preval, dominates both houses of Parliament, and Martelly must win over the opposition to back his policies.
Martelly has said he will seek parliament’s cooperation to implement urgent priorities like creating jobs and housing for more than 600,000 quake survivors still living in tent camps.
He has also promised to guarantee free primary education, decentralize the economy, modernize agriculture and boost investment and production to transform Haiti from a development basket case into a Caribbean success story.
Martelly urged Haitians to support Rouzier, who owns a leading car dealership and heads a power company, calling him the right man to help him deliver on his electoral campaign promises.