Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille resigned on Friday after just four
months in office, plunging the country into political paralysis in the midst of
rebuilding efforts two years after a devastating earthquake.
Conille submitted his resignation in a letter
to President Michel Martelly, according to a statement by the president's
office. There was no immediate word on a possible replacement.
Conille's decision to step down came during political infighting
between the two leaders over earthquake reconstruction contracts, as well as a
parliamentary investigation into dual citizenship of government ministers,
which is illegal under Haitian law.
Conille, a 45-year-old medical doctor and
U.N. development expert, was popular with foreign aid donors and many members
of the international community involved in Haiti's reconstruction efforts after
a January 2010 earthquake shattered the country, killing more than 200,000
He previously served as chief of staff of the
U.N. Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti, led by former U.S. President Bill
In a brief nationally televised address,
Martelly said he had spoken with parliamentary leaders and "we committed
to meeting soon to propose a new prime minister."
The U.S. Embassy in Haiti issued a statement
calling for the "swift" appointment of a successor to ensure
political stability, while expressing "regret" over Conille's
Political tensions between Martelly and
Conille erupted recently after Conille announced plans to audit $300 million in
contracts awarded by his predecessor after the earthquake.
Conille and members of his Cabinet were also
under pressure to cooperate with a parliamentary commission investigating the
nationalities of members of the government.
Conille and some of his aides have held jobs
and lived for extended periods outside Haiti.
Critics say Conille also alienated
parliament and the president, including members of his own Cabinet, by some of
"It didn't work from day one,"
said Alice Blanchet, a special adviser to five former prime ministers,
including Conille's predecessor, Jean-Max Bellerive.
She described Conille's questioning of the
earthquake reconstruction contracts as "petty and unpatriotic,"
noting that no irregularities had been identified by the international
community. "That was offensive to parliament and to the president,"
The resignation could set the stage for
another political showdown between Martelly, who took office in May 2011, and
lawmakers in parliament, where he does not hold a majority.
Conille's appointment as prime minister in
October came after a five-month delay during which Martelly's first two
nominees were rejected, impeding his ability to assemble a government to move
ahead with reconstruction efforts.
"It's so frustrating. It reflects once
again the willingness of political figures in Haiti to let policy differences
reach the point of total polarization and stalemate," said Mark Schneider,
vice president at the International Crisis Group, a Washington-based think tank
that monitors Haiti closely.
"We are now embarked on another unknown
journey of unknown length to try and find another prime minister," he
added, noting how long it took Martelly last year to find a candidate
acceptable to parliament.
"These things in Haiti are so
destructive," he said. "For a country that is barely keeping it's
head above water, this is like picking up another rock that pulls you further
down to the bottom."
Two years after the quake, more than a half a
million people are still living in tent camps in the capital, Port-au-Prince,
and piles of concrete, steel and debris litter the streets.
During a recent visit to Haiti, U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice called on the country's political
leaders to stop bickering.
"Haiti's executive and legislative
branches," Rice said, "need to rise above their interests and work
together in the spirit of compromise and overcome their common
Her words were echoed on Thursday by Mariano
Fernandez, head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
Fernandez issued a statement expressing
concern that "the political deadlock and institutional paralysis between
the government, parliament and the president ... are not likely to create the
necessary conditions for recovery of the economy and the consolidation of