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  • Jean Michel Lapin was appointed in March, making him the third official to become Prime Minister in less than a year.

    Jean Michel Lapin was appointed in March, making him the third official to become Prime Minister in less than a year. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 July 2019

The news of the Prime Minister's resignation comes against the backdrop of a situation of political and economic uncertainty.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin presented Monday his resignation, according to a high-ranking official who asked for anonymity.

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“I have made a choice for Haiti,” Lapin said in an interview with local newspaper “Le Nouvelliste”.

In a letter released by local media, President Jovenel Moise called a meeting with the presidents of the Chamber of Deputies, Gary Bodeau and the Senate, Carl Murat Cantave, to appoint Fritz William Michel as interim prime minister, in accordance with article 137 of the 1987 Constitution.

Lapin was appointed as prime minister on March 21, after 93 deputies out of 103 voted in favor of removing former Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant, making him the third official to hold the post since Moise took office in 2017.

He has since failed to form a government and his appointment was never ratified by the Senate nor the Chamber of Deputies.

Lapin began his public career in 1988 as a public servant in the Ministry of Public Health, he then served as an administrator in the National Library of Haiti (1989-2007) until February 2007 when he moved to the Ministry of Culture, to later become Minister of that entity, as well as director of the National Institute of Music of Haiti.

As interim PM and under his government, Haiti’s Lower House had approved on March a salary increase project to raise the minimum wages for workers from 420 gourdes (about US$ 5.25) to 750 gourdes (US$ 9.38) per day. 

The move did not please private sector representatives who threatened to fire over 60,000 workers if the bill went through. Trade union groups neither were satisfied as they considered it insufficient regarding the cost of living in the country.

To deal with the emergencies of the day, and following the resignation of Mr. Lapin, I have chosen, in consultation with the Presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, Fritz William Michel as PM.
 

The news of his resignation comes against the backdrop of a situation of political and economic uncertainty and ends up disrupting the extremely fragile stability of the poorest country in Latin America.

Since February, Haiti has been the scene of massive and deadly protests demanding the resignation of Moise and his administration amid scandals of corruption. 

When the country was already dealing with a tense economic crisis and high inflation, the Senate published a report accusing dozens of officials and heads of private firms of having embezzled US$2 billion from Petrocaribe, the cut-price-oil aid program that Venezuela offered to several Caribbean countries.

The funds were meant to finance infrastructure development along with health, education and social programs. 

The report sustained already existing questions about what the successive governments have to show for some US$9 billion received for almost ten years, in foreign aid.

The Carribean country of 11 million people has been struggling for decades to overcome extreme poverty along with widespread corruption. These last ten years were particularly harsh for the Caribbean island which went through one of the deadliest earthquakes in 2010, an epidemic of cholera, brought in accidentally by United Nations peacekeepers, and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. 

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