PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti's new president wants a business leader to serve as his prime minister, a government official said Sunday.
The official announcement that President Michel Martelly wants Daniel-Gerard Rouzier to be the country's No. 2 official comes one day after Martelly, a charismatic pop star known as "Sweet Micky", was sworn in as Haiti's next leader in back-to-back ceremonies at a makeshift Parliament and on the lawn of the National Palace, which collapsed in last year's crippling earthquake.
Parliament must still ratify Rouzier to the post.
Also Sunday, an adviser to current Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Bellerive had submitted his resignation to make room for his successor. Bellerive, who also co-chairs Haiti's reconstruction commission with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, will stay in the job until the new head of government is ratified, his special adviser, Alice Blanchet, told The Associated Press.
The new prime minister will also serve as co-chair of Haiti's Interim Recovery Commission, whose mandate is due to expire in October. The body has been criticized for not doing enough to house and help survivors of the January 2010 earthquake that claimed 300,000 lives and displaced 2 million others.
Martelly's chief-of-staff Thierry Mayard-Paul said Sunday that Martelly picked Rouzier as his choice for prime minister because of his record as an established entrepreneur.
Rouzier, an adviser to Martelly, is general manager of Sun Auto, a car dealership, president of E-Power, an electric power project, and involved with Food for the Poor, a charity based in Coconut Creek, Florida.
Rouzier, a political novice, reportedly accompanied Martelly to Washington, D.C., when he met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and heads of international financial institutions. Martelly and Rouzier have been lifelong friends and played soccer with each other as children, Mayard-Paul said.
Two weeks after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, Rouzier was the focus of a CNN feature in which he vowed to use his own money to bury 2,500 earthquake victims.
"He's a very successful guy — his resume speaks for itself," Mayard-Paul said of Rouzier. "We believe that he can be very effective at managing the government."
Despite his credentials, Rouzier could face a tough time being ratified by parliament, in which Martelly has no party members in the Senate and only three in the Chamber of Deputies.
"We believe there will be a little resistance," Mayard-Paul said. "But we also believe — and President Martelly believes — that we can show (the parliament) that he's the right choice."
Ken Michel, an adviser for Rouzier, said Rouzier was unavailable to comment Sunday evening.