Mr. Martelly shares the blame. Rather than seeking reconciliation and new allies following bruising, deeply flawed elections, he has continued to rely on a small circle of friends and advisers. His first pick for prime minister, an intelligent American-educated entrepreneur, had no more political experience than Mr. Martelly. His second, a former justice minister remembered chiefly for reprisals and repression directed at his ideological enemies, stood no chance of confirmation ó as Mr. Martelly was repeatedly and publicly warned.
Meanwhile, the president made five overseas trips in his first eight weeks in office ó including one to Spain, a country of little significance for Haiti. Itís hard to know whether these rookie mistakes are the product of inexperience, incompetence or both.
Now the president says that it may be another six months before he manages to install a prime minister to lead his government. If that turns out to be the case, it will only compound Haitiansí suffering and confirm the growing international impression of a rudderless, politically querulous nation incapable of helping itself.
Already, reconstruction efforts have been painfully slow. More than 600,000 people, displaced from their homes by the quake, remain in tent-and-tarp cities in and around the capital of Port-au-Prince. Vast fields of rubble remain to be cleared. Of $5.6 billion pledged by international donors for what was to be the original, 18-month recovery period following the earthquake in January 2010, scarcely 40 percent has been disbursed, and far less has actually made its way to projects on the ground.
Itís not that the new president lacks decent ideas or instincts. He has proposed a solid pilot plan for resettling tens of thousands of displaced residents of tent cities, and he has wisely extended the mandate of an interim relief commission led by Bill Clinton and Jean-Max Bellerive, prime minister under the previous government. His program to provide free primary education to children, and to finance it with higher taxes on wire transfers and international calls, is sensible.
But if Mr. Martelly is to have even a slight hope of success, he needs to reach out to his adversaries in parliament, widen his circle of advisers and broaden his base of support. So far, heís stuck in the mud.