Haiti: Martelly backs Clinton aide, army restoration

The Haitian Senate was scheduled to start discussions on President Michel Martelly’s latest nominee for prime minister, Garry Conille, on Oct. 3. The Chamber of Deputies voted 89-0 on Sept. 16 in favor of the nomination after Parliament rejected Martelly’s two previous choices. The government has been administered by acting prime minister Jean-Max Bellerive, a holdover from the previous administration, ever since Martelly took office in May.

Garry Conille is the resident coordinator for the United Nations Development Program in Niger and has been an assistant to former US president Bill Clinton (1993-2001), the United Nations’ special envoy for Haiti and the co-president of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC, or CIRH in French and Spanish). The choice of Conille has been controversial because of his long association with Clinton, who was already being referred to in political circles as the de factogovernor of Haiti.” According to the Miami Herald, Conille insists “that he’s not the international community’s candidate.” (MH, Sept. 17, from correspondent; Haïti Libre, Haiti, Oct. 1)

In another controversial move, Martelly is apparently planning to reinstitute the Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd’H), which was abolished on Jan. 6, 1995 by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004). A document entitled “Haiti Security: All the Details on the Project for the New National Force,” not yet released officially, describes a plan for an initial force with 3,500 members; recruitment would begin in October or November.

Grassroots movements strongly oppose the plan. Osnel Jean-Baptiste, spokesperson for Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (“Small Haitian Peasants Unity”), said that if the army returns, it “will only work for one part” of the population and that the wounds from the old military’s acts of repression have not yet healed. Yanick Étienne, a spokesperson for the leftist group Batay Ouvriye (“Workers’ Struggle”), called the proposed army “one more force against the people. This won’t be an army that will defend the nation’s interests.” (AlterPresse, Haiti, Sept. 29)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 2.

See our last post on Haiti.