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Haiti’s Prime Minister Resigns; President Fills Position Same Day

Haiti's new Prime Minister, Fritz-William Michel.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Resigns; President Fills Position Same Day

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, July 23, 2019 (CMC) Yesterday, President, Jovenel Moise, announced that he had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin.

Lapin had earlier told the local newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, that in offering his resignation, “I have made a choice for Haiti”.

Lapin, the former culture and communications minister, who was named to the post on March 21, three days after the Chamber of Deputies voted to oust the six-month old government of then-prime minister, Jean-Henry Ceant.

Lapin had become the third head of government under President Moise, who, himself, came to office in February 2017.

Later in the day, President Jovenel Moise named Fritz-William Michel, an executive in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as his fourth prime minister since he became Head of State in 2017.

In a Twitter posting, last night, Moise named the virtually-unknown technocrat to head his government and is expected to formalize the position in an official decree later.

The new prime minister’s appointment followed talks, on Sunday and Monday, between Moise and the leaders of the two chambers of parliament.

Media reports had earlier indicated that Moise had approached three people, including a woman, to replace Lapin, who had come to office, less than a month after thousands of people took to the streets across the country, demanding better living conditions and the departure of the president.

Moise faces an uphill task in getting his new nominee accepted by legislators, who had used various strategies, including removing furniture from the Chamber and failing to report for work, in a bid to block a vote on Lapin’s nomination.

The opposition parties, here, have accused Moise of embezzlement, but the head of state has defended himself against the report of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation (CSA/CA) into programs and projects, funded by PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment.

The CSC/CA audit found that significant shortcomings have been associated with the planning and implementation of development programs and projects, funded by the PetroCaribe Fund, during the administration of former president Michel Martelly.

The Court made it clear that, overall, relevant documents were missing in most of the projects and contracts reviewed and, as a result, it was impossible to conduct a comprehensive audit of several projects.

For example, the 610-page report found that in 2014, for the same project to rehabilitate the Borgne-Petit Bourg de Borgne road section, the State signed two identical contracts, worth more than 39 million Gourdes, with two separate companies.

Moise, before he came to power in 2017, headed a company, which received more than 33 million Gourdes to do the road work, though the company, in principle, did nothing but grow bananas.

CARICOM leaders at their summit in St. Lucia, earlier this month, agreed to send a prime ministerial delegation to Haiti, comprising of St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, the CARICOM chairman, as well as the prime ministers of Jamaica and The Bahamas.

The summit’s communiqué had indicated that the prime ministerial delegation would visit Port au Prince “in order to inform the Community of the situation in that country”.

It gave no indication when the visit would take place.

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