New government formed -- finally -- in Haiti

Haitian President Michael Martelly speaks during the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 23, in New York City.

Story highlights

  • Senators ratified Garry Conille as Haiti's next prime minister
  • President Michel Martelly had failed to get his first two choices approved
  • Conille is a development expert who served as an aide to Bill Clinton
  • The new government must lead post-earthquake recovery efforts
It has been nearly a year since Haiti held elections, but it was not until late Tuesday night that the troubled nation finally was able to form a new government.
Garry Conille, a United Nations development specialist and aide to Bill Clinton, was ratified by the Haitian Senate after debate that lasted more than seven hours.
President Michel Martelly, who took office in May, congratulated his new prime minister, saying that the installation of new leadership was a step forward in implementing change in Haiti.
Martelly's two former prime ministerial nominations -- businessman Daniel Rouzier and lawyer Bernard Gousse -- were rejected by the Senate. The inability to form a working government had raised concerns about Haiti's ability to move forward after a devastating earthquake in January 2010.
However, Conille was welcomed in many corners as someone knowledgeable on development challenges and someone who had experience in working with the global community.
Conille, 45, a gynecologist, earned a master's degree in health administration from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He worked for the United Nations Development Program and was a protege of economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University.
"You need someone like Garry Conille who understands the international community because this is a country which depends on the largesse of the international community," said Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor and publisher of the New York-based newspaper The Haitian Times.
Most recently, Conille served as chief of staff for former President Clinton, the special U.N. envoy in Haiti. In that role, he was involved in international aid delivery to Haiti.
Martelly and Conille have a tough road ahead. Critics say post-quake progress in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, has not been swift enough. Thousands of people remain displaced from their homes, many still in vulnerable makeshift camps. The new government has to take on recovery.
Pierre-Pierre said it will be important for Haiti to choose a finance minister who has experience in the private sector, whose partnership with the government will be key to Haiti's future.
"I just hope (Conille) is able to bring in someone who is as high-powered in the financial world as he is the development world," Pierre-Pierre said. "Too often in Haiti, we have loaded the government with good bureaucrats (and) not enough people with private sector experience."