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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Haiti has new Prime Minister amid uncertainty

CSMS Magazine Staff Writers

 After months of tergiversation and shameful mea culpa, the Haitian upper house of parliament voted early this morning to confirm Madame Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis as Prime Minister. This was the last hurdle Madame Pierre-Louis needed to overcome in order to become the country’s third woman to occupy such a post. Haiti has been without a Prime Minister since April, and successive Prime Minister nominees were rejected on superficial grounds that had nothing to do with the country’s dire economic situation.            René Préval, the country’s president, suffered blows after blows when it became clear that members of his own Lespwa (Hope) political party who represent a majority in parliament rebuffed his previous choices: economist Erick Pierre and former security chief and long friend and advisor to Préval, Robert Manuel.            Observers believe that Michèle’s confirmation did not come without a price. Some in the president inner circles have acknowledged that major concessions had to be made to earn the backing of some holdouts, especially the so-called group of 9 who used political blackmailing to earn favors within the new government. It was reported that there was a heated exchange between Michèle Pierre-Louis and OPL senator Joseph Pierre Louis who accused her of violating articles 158 and 165 of the constitution for refusing to respond to a direct question concerning the Prime Minister’s political program. According to Radio Metropole, Joseph Pierre-Louis, with no apparent relation to Michèle Pierre-Louis, ended up voting in favor of ratification.            Michèle Pierre-Louis, 61, is said to be a close friend of René Préval. She lived in New York, where she studied economics and later studied Airport Management in France. But she has been the head of Fokal since 1995. Fokal is and NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) financed by American billionaire philanthropist George Soros.                      Michèle Pierre-Louis, throughout this process, was the subject of a serious controversy surrounding her sexual orientation. Although she denied being a lesbian before the parliament, the controversy persisted, which prompted the creation of a Facebook group called Soutenir Michèle Pierre-Louis which only goal was to forestall any attempt by the Prime Minister’ opponents to derail once again the nomination. Critics say that in a country like Haiti where machismo reigns, Pierre-Louis’s victory “is a confirmation of the prized values of privacy anddiscretion in the national psyche rather than an explicit gay rights victory,” suggested Alice Backer in an article written by Jennifer Brea in the Global Voices Online.  A country swamped by social and economic problemsWhile we are writing this piece, a catastrophe looms in Haiti as tropical storm Hanna swept through and sent close to half a million residents homeless. The city of Gonaives, a city of 300,000, currently lies under water when sheets of rains forced an avalanche of mud and other debris from the surrounding barren landscape into town, living thousands stranded.            Gonaives is located 90 miles north of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. It is the birthplace of the Haitian nation. It is there in 1804, the Haitian revolutionary heroes declared Haiti free of French rule.              More than 100 people have been reportedly killed and 200, 000 thousands are homeless and hungry in Gonaives, and that number is predicted to rise once the water recedes. Relief agencies are unable to reach storm victims because of the dilapidating conditions.            Further north near the city of Port-De-Paix in the Northwest province some 40 miles from Gonaives, Trois Rivière, the region’s largest river, overflowed its banks while sending thousands to seek higher grounds. CSMS Magazine spoke by phone to Lucny Frederick from Port-De-Paix, who told us that all temporary shelters in town have swelled beyond capacity.            Let’s be reminded it was a food riot last April that triggered the downfall of former Prime Minister Pierre Edouard Alexis. So Michèle Pierre-Louis inherits a government overwhelmed by crises. One wonders whether she can make a difference.       Also see:  Robert Manuel’s rejection: A second blow to René Préval A vote 51-35 derailed Preval’s effort to install new Prime Minister Rene Prevsl takes office  Haiti: the lies will never endWill Haiti Ever Regain Its Sanity?Will Haiti ever achieve responsible governance?High Noon for René Préval in Haiti

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