Haiti: still no prime minister

On June 12 Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies voted 57-22 with six abstentions to reject President Rene Garcia Preval’s latest nominee for prime minister, Robert Manuel. A commission assigned to study Manuel’s qualifications found that he failed to meet two requirements in the 1987 Constitution: he didn’t own property in Haiti and he hadn’t lived in the country for the last five years consecutively. Manuel is a longtime friend of Preval and was the security chief during Preval’s first term as president (1996-2001). The Lavalas Family (FL) party of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide pushed for Manuel’s removal in 1999, and he left the country, returning near the end of 2005.

Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis had to resign on April 12 following militant protests triggered by the rising cost of food. But he has continued to head a caretaker government while Parliament and Preval try to settle on a replacement. Parliament rejected an earlier nominee, Ericq Pierre. (Haiti Support Group News, June 12 from Reuters; AlterPresse, June 12)

Also on June 12, some 30 nongovernmental organizations from the Group of Eight (G8) industrial countries and other European countries issued a letter calling on G8 governments to respond to the food crisis by cancelling Haiti’s external debt or at least declaring a moratorium on debt service, which will be $58.2 million for 2008. Haiti’s total external debt as of 2006 was $1.3 billion. Of this about $1 billion was owed to international credit institutions like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. (AlterPresse, June 12)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 22

See our last post on Haiti.