- Title: HAITI: Haiti rejects president's nominee for prime minister
- Date: 14th June 2008
- Summary: (BN17) PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI (RECENT - JUNE 9, 2008) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) ROBERT MANUEL, REJECTED PRIME MINISTER NOMINEE SAYING: "My desire is to continue being a militant (against injustice) and a servant in this country that is facing many problems in our culture and in our territory-- problems that must be dealt with through mobilization and participation by the government and the Haitian people."
- Embargoed: 29th June 2008 13:00
- Location: Haiti
- Country: Haiti
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA2TLMB1TU7NXVGJ07VYVH7Q0WO
- Story Text: Citing residency concerns, Haitian deputies rejected President Jean Preval's nominee for prime minister, his longtime advisor Robert Manuel.
Haitian lawmakers rejected President Rene Preval's nominee for prime minister on Thursday (June 12), in another blow to his efforts to establish a stable democracy in the impoverished Caribbean country.
It was the second rejection of a candidate for the post in the past month, leaving the president saddled with a lame-duck government.
Robert Manuel, an architect and recognized security and law enforcement authority, served as secretary of state for public safety during a portion of Preval's first term as president from 1996 to 2001. A longtime friend and adviser to Preval, he also managed his successful election campaign in 2006.
Before the vote, Manuel said he wanted to continue being a vital force in Haiti's development.
"My desire is to continue being a militant (against injustice) and a servant in this country that is facing many problems in our culture and in our territory-- problems that must be dealt with through mobilization and participation by the government and the Haitian people," he said.
Manuel's candidacy was rejected in a 57-22 vote in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house in Haiti's parliament.
Lawmakers cited residency requirements for their decision to spurn Manuel, who was nominated by Preval on May 26.
"Since Mr. Robert Manuel stated that he was living in exile from 1999 to 2005, that means that he was not living in the country for five consecutive years," said Deputy Delouis Jean Felix. "On that basis, the commission decided that Mr. Robert Manuel is not eligible to become the country's Prime Minister and, out of the respect for the constitution, we voted against Mr. Robert Manuel."
According to the Haitian Constitution, a candidate for prime minister has to have lived in the country for five consecutive years prior to taking office. Manuel, who was forced to abandon his homeland for political reasons in 1999, only returned near the end of 2005.
"We had asked the President before he designates another person for the prime minister's job, please have a lawyer look at all of the documents before they come to us to be conformed to the Constitution, because we do not want to make scene in front of the population," said Felix.
Manuel's supporters attributed his rejection to the corrosive influence of drug gangs and other criminal groups.
Preval's first prime minister, Edouard Alexis, was fired by the Senate in April after violent protests against food prices and the rapidly escalating cost of living in the poorest country in the Americas.
Preval has faced increasing criticism since the food riots and his first candidate to succeed Alexis, Inter-American Development Bank official Ericq Pierre, was rejected by parliament on May 12. In Pierre's case, deputies who voted against him said he had failed to provide proof required under the constitution that he was descended from native-born Haitians.
Preval, who took office in May 2006, is the only elected Haitian leader to serve a full term and successfully hand over power to a democratically elected successor. Haiti has known little but political upheaval and brutal dictatorship since French rule ended in a slave revolt more than 200 years ago.
In his first term, it took Preval 21 months to put a new government in place after then-Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned in June 1997.
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