Haiti's new prime minister pledges to forge partnerships

Story highlights

  • "It's time for Haitians to come together," Prime Minister Garry Conille says
  • Lawmakers confirmed him as the nation's prime minister late Tuesday
  • Conille says "strong and responsible partnerships" are key
  • He is a 45-year-old gynecologist with a master's degree in health administration
Standing steps away from the site where Haiti's National Palace crumbled, the country's new prime minister says he hopes to build consensus as he helps reconstruct the country's devastated infrastructure.
"Of course, we are going to prioritize the 600,000 people that are living in tents. Of course, we understand we need to create jobs very quickly. Of course, we will continue to prioritize the president's vision of every single child going to school here in Haiti," Prime Minister Garry Conille told CNN Thursday in an interview less than two days after lawmakers approved his nomination.
"But more than that, it's time for Haitians to come together, to agree on a common agenda, to get excited about what we can do together again and to make it work and to make it happen."
Senators rejected President Michel Martelly's two former prime ministerial nominations -- businessman Daniel Rouzier and lawyer Bernard Gousse. The inability to form a working government had raised concerns about Haiti's ability to move forward after the devastating earthquake in January 2010.
"By choosing me, and as you know the president has chosen someone who is not part of his close circle, I think he wanted to send a signal that he wanted someone that can be neutral. ... I can bring the different parties together around his vision and actually bring change to the Haitian people," Conille told CNN.
The 45-year-old gynecologist was welcomed in many corners as someone knowledgeable on development challenges and someone who had experience in working with the global community.
Conille has worked for the United Nations since 1999, serving in Ethiopia, Haiti and Niger, according to the agency. He also served as chief of staff for former U.S. President Bill Clinton in his capacity as the U.N. special envoy for Haiti.
Conille described his experience working with Clinton as "incredible."
"I've learned so much from him, and one of the things I have learned from him is that he has a great deal of respect for a country's autonomy. In fact, he has been one of the strongest backers of Haitians being able to define the agenda (and) choosing their own destiny," Conille said.
Conille earned a master's degree in health administration from the University of North Carolina at 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.
Conille told CNN that many models exist for solving Haiti's problems, including educating children and providing universal health care.
The key, he said, is bringing together government officials, youth, religious leaders, members of civil society and the international community "so they all play their part."
"We all need to recognize very quickly that this is no one-man show," he said.
While he acknowledged there are obstacles to overcome, Conille said he was committed to the job.
"I think Haitians will learn very quickly that I am here to defend their interests and to make sure that their lives can improve, but I am also going to be open to partnerships," he said. "This is a country where 80-85% of our investment budget is coming from the international community. So strong and responsible partnerships are going to be essential to achieving what we want to do."