The following editorial appeared in the Miami Herald on Monday, Feb. 27:
Well, that didn’t take long. In office only four months, Prime Minister Garry Conille of Haiti resigned Friday under pressure from President Michel Martelly. This is a huge setback for Haiti as it continues to struggle with recovery efforts following the January 2010 earthquake.
Conille’s principal failing was his unwillingness to play ball with Haiti’s powerful insiders. Lacking the time in office to establish himself as a political player with his own network of supporters, he had no help when his enemies pounced. When Martelly turned against him and ordered cabinet ministers to follow suit, it left him little room to maneuver.
In a rare message of commendation for someone in office for such a short period, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti noted “the efforts, insight and energy demonstrated by the Prime Minister Garry Conille during the last four months” and expressed regret that Haiti could no longer benefit from his services. Similarly, the head of Haiti’s U.N. mission said on the eve of Conille’s departure that “a series of repeated crises between the executive and legislative powers” has undermined the democratic process.
That’s the polite language used in diplomacy to say, “What a mess!”
Progress has been made … in the last few months, giving rise to the hope that 2012 would be a turning point, but now Haiti is back to Square One. What Haiti needs now is yet another prime minister who can attract international confidence, but that’s easier said than done.
Conille wanted to investigate spending practices and reconstruction contracts let by his predecessor, but Martelly had no misgivings over them, and that became his undoing. As much as anything, the pressure for him to resign is a message to his eventual successor about what not to do: provide transparent governance.
Apparently, even a cataclysmic earthquake can’t make Haiti’s leaders shake the politics of the past.