“We have nothing against Mr. Conille, but we must respect the Constitution,” argued Senator Jean Hector Anacacis disputing the constitutionality of his candidacy. “He did not have his identification card, he has not voted, has not paid his taxes and is only someone seizing the moment to get access to the post of prime minister, overlooking conditions stipulated by the Constitution,” he pleaded.
After an eight-hour session packed with intense, humorous and sometimes tedious debates, Garry Conille, President Michel Martelly’s third nominee for prime minister, received the blessings of the Haitian Senate with 17 senators lifting him over a barrage of inconsistencies opponents found in his documents. However, the results were far from the unanimous acclamation the House of Deputies awarded him nearly three weeks ago.
All 30 members constituting the house of the wise were present as the late vote came down between the fierce advocates for a new government to end the political crisis and the passionate proponents of constitutional respect and coherence. The former judged problematic inconsistencies enumerated by colleagues inconsequential, arguing “ If we must punish Garry Conille for recent elections, we must also punish the 3 million eligible voters who have not exercised their civic or political duties.”
Pleading for a principled, more consistent decision, the latter wondered how the commission that analyzed his documents could ask the senate to violate the Constitution and vote for Conille. “There are numerous inconsistencies, suspicions and doubts that undermine Mr. Conille’s case,” explained Senator William Jeanty.
However, the green light came from the same opposing senate majority who authored Martelly’s second major political defeat, dashing former Justice Bernard Gousse’s hopes of leading his government. Businessman Daniel Rouzier who preceded Gousse’s nomination for the post suffered a similar fate from the House of Deputies last June.
Conille received 13 yay votes from the 16-member majority known as G-16 to push in over the constitutional hurdles he faced with two senators voting against him and the other abstaining. Joining this group, senators Youri Latortue, Edwin Zenny, loyal ally and friend of the president, Jean Willy Jean-Baptiste and Michel Clerie also voted for Conille. In spite of many passionate arguments discouraging a favorable outcome for the nominee, only three senators voted against him while nine others abstained.
Elated, President Martelly and the new prime minister expressed great satisfaction with the upper house’s confirmation as affirmations rained from around the globe. As he rolled out the red carpet for his new head of government, Martelly called it a historic day for Haiti. Nevertheless, Senator Jeanty reasoned that given the plurality of deficiencies found in Conille’s documents, other motivating factors were behind his colleagues’ conscious disregard for constitutional filters. “There must be some influential hands or something driving this process,” the senator explained in an interview aired on Radio Kiskeya.
Further, Jeanty found the cloud of suspicions surrounding Conille citizenship insurmountable and cautioned colleagues to avoid the slippery slope he felt would compromise their constitutional integrity. Yet the commission’s report read, “The document analysis report confirms Dr. Conille is 46 years old and has never renounced his nationality.” During their rebuttal however, opposing senators emphasized the commission could not account for the first 35 years of Conille’s life since it only analyzed documents from years 2000 to 2011. Senators were specifically referring to the physician’s 4-year residency status in Canada before that time period, but their arguments bounced back against an unshakable coalition determined to ratify Martelly’s third nominee.
Senators debated these issues until 10:30 p.m. when Rodolphe Joazil, president of the senate, put the motion to a vote, ending eight long hours of debates. Conille emerged as the new prime minister of Haiti after the president tallied all the votes: 17 for, 3 against and 9 abstention with a non-voting president.
As the new prime minister form his cabinet, he will have to declare his political goals to both chambers of parliament separately, ensuring they are in line with the country’s overall politics. Political analysts expect parliamentarians to initiate that phase as early as next week to complete Conille’s ratification process.