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Anger grows in Haiti as new leader stumbles
Outsider status seen as obstacle 3 months into term
Question of the Day
The president has made some attempts at progress: His administration launched a program that aims to put kids in school with fees collected from wire transfers and international phone calls, and presented a plan to relocate 30,000 people from six major earthquake encampments into repaired houses.
Former President Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, announced last month that his foundation would kick in $1.25 million to help raise school funding. But the new fees have angered Haitians overseas because it raised the cost of calling and sending money back home for a largely working-class community.
The administration also drew criticism for evicting people from one of the earthquake encampments before creating housing elsewhere. Even if it were to succeed, Mr. Martelly’s relocation plan would help a mere 5 percent of the displaced population.
Mark Schneider of the U.S.-based think tank the International Crisis Group praised Mr. Martelly for the housing plan and for retaining the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, an international review panel that oversees earthquake reconstruction aid that some Haitians view with resentment.
But he also said the new president needs to learn how to work across party lines.
“He needs to govern with a vision of national reconciliation and national reconstruction,” Mr. Schneider said. “That has to be his mantra.”
Mr. Martelly’s biggest apparent misstep so far has been his picks for prime minister.
His initial choice was rejected overwhelmingly by the Chamber of Deputies. They accused the nominee, businessman Daniel-Gerard Rouzier, of tax evasion and questioned his citizenship.
Many believed the real reason for Mr. Rouzier’s rejection was that Mr. Martelly hadn’t done enough to win the lawmakers’ support beforehand. There are only three people from Mr. Martelly’s party in the 99-seat Chamber of Deputies and none in the 30-seat Senate.
“He’s learning the hard way,” said Sen. Steven Benoit. “He’s realizing parliament is the No. 1 power.”
Mr. Martelly’s second pick, Bernard Gousse, has not yet come up for a vote, but faces stronger opposition.
Mr. Gousse served as justice minister under the interim government set up by the international community after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and has been accused of persecuting supporters of the former president, who remains a popular figure in Haiti.
“The prime minister-designate is politically dead, and when a person dies, there’s no choice but to bury him,” Jean-Charles Moses, an opposition senator, told Radio Kiskeya.
But the stakes are higher now as the country struggles to jump-start stalled earthquake reconstruction.
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