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April 12, 2013

More changes in Haiti’s young, inexperienced government

Haiti’s prime minister has tapped cabinet members to replace two departing ministers within days of one another.

The musical chairs in Haiti's government continued Friday as the prime minister's office announced after midnight replacements for two cabinet posts left vacant by resignations within days of one another.

Trade and Commerce Minister Wilson Laleau will now head the ministry of economy and finance, replacing Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie. A highly respected economist, Jean-Marie abruptly resigned Wednesday after 11 months, telling Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe in a resignation letter that she no longer felt "solidarity" with her colleagues in her mission to rein in public spending and put Haiti on the path to macro-economic stability.

The resignation caught both Haiti's private sector and donor community by surprise. Both considered Jean-Marie to be one of the more credible and competent members of President Michel Martelly's young administration, which has been under pressure to stage long overdue elections, as well as provide more transparency in government spending and better financial management.

Soon after Jean-Marie's departure came Communications Minister Regine Godefroy’s. She will now be replaced by Culture Minister Josette Darguste.

Haiti's former director of the postal service, Godefroy was promoted in January to the communications job during a second shake-up of Lamothe's government since he assumed the No. 2 job in the government in May 2012.

In a lengthy resignation letter, Godefroy said she was calling it quits because she was no longer able "to perform my duty with rigor, honor and integrity." She defended the job she had done in three months. Through a lot of "self-sacrifice" and "a relentless fight," she said she had turned around a ministry with no budget and in disrepair.

"I fought adversity internally and externally to define a clear vision, set clear goals and straighten the administration for the sole purpose of creating cohesiveness and harmony in the dissemination o f government action," wrote Godefroy, who had an active presence on Twitter.

The communiqué noted that Laleau, who has been taken to task on Haiti radio in recent days over the government's claims that it had created 400,000 jobs, will keep the commerce portfolio "until further notice."

Darguste also will be doubling up on her duties as both culture and communications chief for now, although in previous governments both posts have been combined in the same ministry

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