But Laurent Lamothe, a close friend and former business associate of President Michel Martelly, also is a political novice who officially took over the second toughest job in Haiti on Wednesday as he and his 21-member Cabinet were sworn-in.
“I have the ambition of working and being the prime minister that takes care of the people’s needs,’’ Lamothe, 39, told The Miami Herald. “In Haiti … you have to focus on tomorrow, and make sure tomorrow is better than today.”
And that work begins immediately said Lamothe, announcing a massive street clean-up, road improvements and increased security measures. The makeover will be combined with several new reforms he plans to send parliament, he added.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Michel Martelly was the king of Haitian music, a high-energy charmer who became president of a broken nation by promising sweeping changes in employment, education, energy, environment and the rule of law.
“Haiti is open for business,” Martelly declared as he took the oath of office on the grounds of a collapsed presidential palace, a tent city behind the iron fence serving as a visible reminder of the devastating January 2010 earthquake.
A year after his May 14 inauguration, many of the tents are gone and the plaza of independence heroes is slowly beginning to look the way it did before the quake. But efforts to rebrand Haiti from a charity to investment destination have been eclipsed by self-made internal crises, controversy and corruption scandals. Further threatening stability and security is a rogue force of decommissioned military officers and prospective soldiers who are pushing for revival of the country’s disbanded army.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitian lawmakers have approved President Michel Martelly’s choice for a new prime minister, ending a two-month impasse that had hampered the country’s efforts to rebuild from the devastating 2010 earthquake.
The Chamber of Deputies voted 62-3 with two abstentions shortly before midnight Thursday to confirm Laurent Lamothe, who will serve as Haiti’s head of government and lead earthquake reconstruction efforts. Lamothe was a special adviser to Martelly before being named foreign affairs minister and has been co-chairman of an economic advisory panel with former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
The President arrived at Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport Monday morning before 8 o’clock, joined by his wife, Sophia.
Martelly gave a press conference at the airport’s Diplomatic Room to address the local media in the country following his arrival, renewing his call for Parliament to ratify Laurent Lamothe as the country’s new Prime Minister.
Lamothe has been confirmed by the Senate.
“I didn’t die because God wasn’t ready for me to die,” Martelly told Haitian radio host Alex Saint-Surin in a live broadcast Wednesday from North Miami Beach.
It was Martelly’s first public appearance since he arrived in Miami nine days ago seeking treatment for pain after shoulder surgery earlier this month. Martelly looked healthy but tired as he recounted his near-death experience that at one point had a team of six doctors in Haiti keeping vigil over him.
“I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t lay down, I couldn’t do anything,” Martelly said. “My stomach was compressed. It felt as if three people were pressing down on it.”
That was 2 a.m. on April 15, Martelly said. By the next afternoon, he was on a flight to Miami. He spent two days at the University of Miami Hospital. Dr. Reginald Pereira, who joined Martelly on the broadcast, said he’s awaiting additional tests before he allows the president to return to Haiti. Martelly has been recovering at a Miami hotel since leaving the hospital on April 18.
Conille sent a letter to Martelly shortly after 10 a.m. Friday, almost an hour before he was supposed to meet with the president and ministers at the National Palace, several sources confirmed.
The National Palace issued a press release just before 2 p.m. confirming the resignation, saying Martelly will address the nation at 7 p.m. Friday.