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Resignation of Haitian prime minister threatens reconstruction

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille abruptly resigned Friday after less than five months on the job in a setback for President Michel Martelly, whose struggle to fill the top government post had hampered earthquake reconstruction and other development efforts.

The government announced Conille's resignation in a brief statement. Martelly did not immediately announce his proposed replacement for the top administrative post in his government.

Conille, a physician who previously served as an aide to Bill Clinton in the former U.S. president's role as U.N. envoy to Haiti, has not said why he resigned, but his decision came after weeks of rumors of strife between him and other officials in the administration and in Parliament.

The government has struggled to rebuild from the devastating January 2010 earthquake while confronting the poverty and instability that pre-dated the disaster.

"Clearly, it is another crisis, another self-inflicted wound that damages the capacity of the Haitian government to overcome enormous challenges," said Mark Schneider, a senior vice president and Haiti expert with the nonprofit think tank International Crisis Group in Washington.

The earthquake yielded an outpouring of sympathy and support that nearly matched the scale of the disaster's destruction. Donors pledged $4.5 billion in aid but only about half of that amount has been released.

The absence of a prime minister could discourage donors from fulfilling those pledges, further stalling reconstruction efforts. It could also put a number of reconstruction contracts on hold and further postpone the appointment of important government positions that Haiti desperately needs to fill, Schneider said.

One of the donors, the World Bank-run Haiti Reconstruction Fund, has more than $100 million on hold pending the government's approval of projects to be carried out in a transparent and coordinated manner.

Resignation of Haitian prime minister threatens reconstruction 02/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 24, 2012 10:08pm]
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