After a week-long delay, Bernard Gousse delivered documents on Thursday to parliament where senators prepared to evaluate his eligibility as the prime minister nominee.
A nine-member commission reviewed his identification –birth certificates, passports and resident’s registration- while Gousse continued to court senators, some of whom are already declaring their opposition to his approval.
Gousse, a former justice minister, faces hurdles as President Michel Martelly’s second nominee for the prime minister position. His selection was received with mixed emotions from senators who say they are ready to form the new government, but see Gousse’s prior position as a conflict of interest.
“But the verification process is strictly technical,” said Jeanty Jean William, a senator and president of the commission. “This is not political.”
William said he does not know the length of time the commission would require to validate documents from Gousse, who was originally given a July 12 and extended to July 15.
Gousse asked the president of the senate, Jean Rodolphe Joazil, for an extension most likely to buy time for negotiations, said Senator Steven Benoit who is ready to approve him.
Benoit said despite opposing Martelly during his presidential campaign, he promised his voters a six-month period when he will quickly give the president the resources and people he needs to build his new government.
“If he gives me his wife or his maid, I’ll approve them too,” Benoit said jokingly. “Haiti can not wait.”
But Benoit said after six months, he will expect to see signs of results including the effectiveness of his new prime minister.
“I want to see how he will deliver all his promises,” he said.
Senators in the Group of Parliamentarians for Renewal have already voiced their disapproval of Gousse. The 16 members in the majority bloc party have said his nomination creates a conflict of interest having previously served as the justice minister for former President Rene Preval.
Gousse met with the senators on Wednesday and later with the President for hours in what is a possible sign of negotiations, Benoit said.
Senator Jocelerme Privert also voiced concerned for Gousse’s nomination, but said he would still vote to approve him.
“Personally, I understand the conflict,” he said. “But as a senator I have no problem with any person for prime minister. President Martelly has the priority.”
The two have already discussed implementing legislation that affects education, decentralization of the government and the economy. And they also plan to work together on the national budget.
Privert, a former minister from President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government, said he has also spoken closely with Gousse about their bitter past. After Aristide was removed by a coup d’etat, Gousse had him detained for 26 months without any indictment or warrant.
“It was illegal,” he said. “There was no judgment.”
But during their talks, Privert said they both agreed to move on politically to aid the country in recovery.
“The circumstances of this incident are known between him and me,” he said. “They’re political. I can’t forget the pain or the hurt, but we have to get together for the national interests.”
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