Jean-Michel Lapin is Haiti’s new prime minister

Jean-Michel Lapin

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti— Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise  yesterday confirmed Jean-Michel Lapin in his post 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.

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

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

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

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