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Gérard Latortue
CBC News Online

Two days after he was named the new interim prime minister of Haiti, Gérard Latortue arrived in the capital of Port-au-Prince from Florida were he had been living for 10 years.

Latortue hadn't been in Haiti for about 15 years before being sworn in as prime minister, having worked as an academic, United Nations official and business consultant overseas.

The choice of Latortue, 69, as prime minister is seen as a compromise, as he doesn't have ties to any political party in Haiti.

Although the Haitian constitution states that the prime minister is the head of government, Haiti had been effectively run by former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Now, Latortue is expected to run the government while interim President Boniface Alexandre will serve a symbolic role.

Some Haitians, supporters of Aristide, refuse to recognize Latortue as the new leader of Haiti, calling him a technocrat who has no idea how Haitians live.

Latortue is married with three adult children. He hosted two Haitian television programs while living in South Florida and is an avid book collector, especially of those on Haitian history.

Latortue advocates free elections and an independent civilian police force for Haiti.

Timeline

1934: Born in Gonaives, Haiti.

1960: Returns to Haiti after studying at the Institute of Political Sciences and the Institute of Economic and Social Development in Paris. Works as a lawyer and law school professor.

1961: Co-founds an institute for business and economic study in Port-au-Prince, saying there was nowhere for Haitians to study economics in their own country.

1963: Flees the regime of François (Papa Doc) Duvalier. Latortue would live in Jamaica and Washington before moving to Puerto Rico and working as an economics teacher. He would later join the United Nations Organization for Industrial Development, living in Togo and Ivory Coast in West Africa before rising to chief negotiator and living in Vienna.

1988: Returns to Haiti to join the government of Leslie Manigat as foreign minister. The army would stage a coup four months later, forcing Latortue to return to the UN.

1994: Moves to South Florida to work as an international business consultant and radio show host.

2001: Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide offers Latortue a job in his cabinet. Latortue turns him down.

March 2003: The Haitian Television Network of America (HTN) launches, featuring Latortue on two talk shows, Revue de la semaine and L'inviter.

March 9, 2004: The seven-member Council of Sages, formed after the resignation of Aristide, names Latortue the new interim prime minister of Haiti.

Latortue is an an international business consultant who served as foreign minister in 1988 to former President Leslie Manigat. He is an economist who spent part of his career with the United Nations, living in Togo and the Ivory Coast. For the past year he has been calling for Bush to help oust elected President Aristide. Now that Aristide has been kidnapped and the US has troops in the country, Latortue's wish has come true and the US has appointed him the acting Prime Minister.

Former Boca Raton, FL-based businessman; chosen by a seven member "council of sages" to become interim prime minister of Haiti following Jean-Bertrand Aristide's February 2004 ouster.  Latortue was born in Gonaives, Haiti's fourth largest city. He studied politics and economics in Paris and, after returning to Haiti, worked as a lawyer and law professor. He founded the Institute of Economics and Business Study in 1961, but fled the dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier in 1963. He served as a chief negotiator for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Vienna. In 1998, Latortue returned to Haiti to join the government of Leslie Francois Manigat; he fled again when a military coup ousted Manigat. In Florida, Latortue hosted two talk shows on the Miami-based Haitian Television Network.[1] (http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/0304/11haitifla.html)

According to the British newspaper the Guardian's March 17, 2004 edition: Latortue's "chief political advisor is a friend and fellow long-term south Florida resident, as is the defence minister elect, and another man who is being touted for the PM's chief of staff. Three of them appeared cosily on the Haitian Television New of America network, where they were co-hosts of a weekly review show."[2] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1171148,00.html)

Latortue has been criticized by other Caribbean governments and human rights groups for hailing the anti-Aristide rebels, a varied group that includes former FRAPH paramilitary leaders and who killed civilians prior to and following Aristide's ouster as "freedom fighters." Rights groups have also criticized Latortue for considering reforming the Haitian army, which ousted Aristide in 1991 and killed some 5000 Haitians.[3] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23769-2004Mar25_2.html)

Before leaving Florida for the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on March 10, Latortue told reporters that former military leader and leader of the violent armed rebels Guy Philippe is "one of the ones who helped bring democracy back to Haiti."[4]

Gérard Latortue (born June 19, 1934) is the current Prime Minister of Haiti.

He was an official in the United Nations for many years, and he served as foreign minister of Haiti briefly during 1988. He was living in the United States when he was appointed to head the new provisional government in Haiti on March 9, 2004. He arrived in Haiti on March 10 and was sworn in on March 12, 2004.

The government of Percival Patterson in Jamaica has refused to recognise Latortue's administration, as has the government of St Kitts and Nevis and the African Union.

After his arrival on Wednesday, he said he understands Haiti’s problems, even though he hasn’t been living in the country.

“We who are living outside the country may not suffer the same kind of pain,” he said. “But we feel it just as much when we see the wounds caused by what’s happening in the country.”

He spent part of his career with the UN Industrial Development Organization in Africa, and also worked as an international business consultant in Miami. Most recently, he has been living in Boca Raton, Fla., but has returned to visit Haiti several times a year.

Latortue and interim President Boniface Alexandre will begin organizing elections and building a new government for Haiti. Under Aristide, the prime minister’s position was largely ceremonial.

It was unclear whether Neptune, who was appointed by Aristide, would remain in Haiti.

Latortue said he would either restructure the police or reconstitute the army to improve security, said Anne-Marie Issa, a member of the council that picked Latortue.

Haiti’s army, which ousted Aristide months after he became the nation’s first freely elected president in 1990, was disbanded in 1995 after a US invasion restored Aristide to power.

Aristide has been staying in the presidential palace in the Central African Republic since March 1. On Wednesday, a South African delegation visited him there to discuss his long-term asylum plans, Foreign Minister Charles Wenezoui told The Associated Press.

After the visit, South Africa Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said the African Union - an organization representing 53 African nations - should arrange Aristide’s long-term asylum plan.

 

 

 

 
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