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24 February 2012

Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille offered his resignation Friday to President Michel Martelly after just four months in office, amid tension between the premier and government ministers.

The move brings back political turmoil to Haiti as Martelly’s administration struggles to ramp up stalled reconstruction efforts following the massive earthquake two years ago that leveled much of the capital Port-au-Prince.

“I feel obliged to present my resignation,” Conille wrote in a letter to Martelly according to lower chamber of parliament head Louis-Jeune Levaillant, who read from a copy of the letter.

In Haiti, the prime minister is appointed by the president and mainly serves as cabinet chief, but Conille clashed with several ministers in Martelly’s government.

Martelly’s office said in a Twitter message that the president will address the nation and discuss the resignation at 7:00 pm (0000) GMT Saturday. No successor has been announced.

Haiti’s parliament only approved Conille’s appointment in October, which temporarily ended months of political crisis.

He had been the third prime minister appointed by Martelly since the president took office last May, but the first approved by parliament.

Conille had previously served as chief of staff in Haiti to former US president Bill Clinton, who serves as co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission which oversees billions of dollars in post-quake aid to the country.

The US embassy in Haiti seemed unhappy with the move, and issued a statement urging the swift appointment of a new premier.

Washington “has welcomed” Conille’s “effort, insight and energy” over the past four months, the statement read. “We regret that Haiti will lose his service.”

The embassy urged Martelly and Parliament “to work together swiftly to identify and confirm a new Prime Minister.”We continue to believe that political stability in Haiti is critical to its ability to attract the domestic and foreign investments needed to increase economic development and create jobs in Haiti," the statement read.

The process of appointing a new prime minister and forming a government could take months, as Martelly does not have a majority in parliament.

Conille, a physician by trade, was educated in Haiti and received graduate training in health administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Fulbright scholar.

He has also worked as the United Nations Development Program’s resident representative for Niger.


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