PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Friday May 18, 2012 – New Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is determined to end Haiti’s instability and break the cycle of misery.
But Lamothe, 39, is a political novice who officially took over the country’s second hardest job on Wednesday when he and his 21-member government were sworn-in.
“I have the ambition of working and being the prime minister that takes care of the people’s needs,’’ Lamothe, a close friend and former business associate of President Michel Martelly, said. “In Haiti…you have to focus on tomorrow, and make sure tomorrow is better than today.”
That work begins immediately, according to Lamothe, who announced a massive street clean-up, road improvements and increased security measures. The makeover will be combined with several new reforms he plans to send to parliament, he added.
“We have four years to develop this country,” said the new prime minister, a tech-savvy decision-maker who never goes anywhere without his Ipad. “We have to get moving.”
The swearing-in marked a beginning for Lamothe and Martelly, who concluded the first year of his five-year presidential term on Monday. With parliament and Martelly at odds, many hope this “fresh start” is what disaster-ravaged Haiti needs to rebuild. Until now, the political bickering has delayed reconstruction and political progress.
Lamothe was Martelly’s fourth pick, and the second prime minister to be ratified by parliament in six months. Former Prime Minister Garry Conille resigned after only four months amid friction with Martelly.
In the nearly three months leading up to his ratification, Lamothe has reached out across the political divide, courting politicians and members of the formal business community. He preaches inclusion and breaking the political gridlock.
“We don’t have any other choice,” Lamothe told the media. “It is the same fight. It’s the fight to reduce inequalities, it’s the fight to bring better living conditions to the most vulnerable and it’s a fight to bring the country out of this cycle of misery and instability that has plagued it for so long.”
Long the contact in Martelly’s inner-circle for some foreign diplomats, Lamothe is viewed as a “deliverer” and “determined doer” who offers sage advice to the president although he doesn’t always follow the advice, according to insiders.
While acknowledging that he may not be the best qualified politically for the job, the international community says he’s the last chance for Martelly to make progress.