BFF-61 Lapin confirmed as Haiti’s new prime minister

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HAITI-POLITICS

Lapin confirmed as Haiti’s new prime minister

PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 9, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise
on Tuesday confirmed Jean-Michel Lapin as the country’s new prime minister,
just weeks after the Chamber of Deputies censured his predecessor’s six-
month-old government.

The new administration that Lapin — currently the acting prime minister –
must assemble with Moise will face pressing problems such as the high cost of
living and the insecurity that plagues the capital.

Haiti is still recovering from widespread riots in February, when thousands
of people took to the streets across the country — one of the world’s
poorest — to demand better living conditions and the departure of the head
of state.

For about 11 days, all activities ground to a halt in Port-au-Prince and
across most of the Caribbean country’s cities.

Lapin, the former culture and communications minister, was named acting
prime minister on March 21, three days after the Chamber of Deputies voted to
censure the government of former prime minister Jean-Henry Ceant.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted for Ceant’s resignation, saying he had
failed to improve conditions in the six months since he took over at the head
of government.

Lapin is the third head of government under president Moise, who has led
the Caribbean island nation since February 2017.

The announcement was made by Moise via Twitter, and will be formalized by
presidential decree later in the day.

The installation of a new government is an International Monetary Fund pre-
requisite for the disbursement of the first tranche of a $229 million loan to
Haiti.

In 2018, Haiti racked up a record $290 million deficit, while its national
budget, the lowest in the Caribbean region, amounts to $1.8 billion.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas, with 60 percent of the
population living below the poverty line.

Transparency International places the country at number 161 out of 180 in
its corruption ranking.

Since the summer of 2018, a civic movement has mobilized to demand an
accounting of the use of funds from Petrocaribe, a Venezuelan-financed aid
program established in 2008.

Haiti’s High Court of Auditors in January published a report detailing the
mismanagement of the fund and the possible diversion of nearly $2 billion.

One top opposition leader, Andre Michel, said Lapin’s appointment changes
nothing.

“We want a total change of this system of socio-economic exclusion,” he
told AFP.

“Our demands remain the same: first, the resignation of the president of
the republic; secondly, the completion of the Petrocaribe trial,” Michel
added.

His comments reflect the high degree of polarization in Haiti as it moves
toward legislative elections in October, which will renew the Chamber of
Deputies and a third of the Senate.

BSS/AFP/SSS/2100 hrs