Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin tendered his resignation Monday, effectively ending his short stint as the third Prime Minister under President Jovenel Moise’s two-and-a-half-year rule. By so doing, the outgoing Prime Minister has opened the door for new negotiations and efforts to form a government to carry on the duties of administration of the nation. A new Head of Government has been named by President Jovenel on tweeter, pending an official decree and announcement later, in the person of Fritz-William Michel, a former official at the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Talking to the press, the outgoing Prime Minister stated how the legislature’s inability to come to a decision on his general policies for the administration and the overall atmosphere in the country following the report on the PetroCaribe scandal created a stalemate from which his resignation with serve as opening the way for negotiations to move the country forward. Mr. Lapin laid the stalemate at the feet of the legislature which failed to approve any of his policies after two plenary sessions. Asked about his plans for the future, the career public servant plans to retire after 31 years in public service.
Elsewhere, the incoming Prime Minister’s appointment came after consultations between President Jovenel Moise and leaders of the two chambers of the legislature, a sign that things may finally begin to thaw between the powers, to allow for a dialogue that may eventually allow for the formation of a government to carry out the day to day running of the country, that has stalled for quite some time now. For more than a year now, President Moise has been challenged by a recalcitrant opposition and legislature that questions his legitimacy and culpability in the PetroCaribe scandal in which his business AgriTrans has been implicated. Although, the president has denied ever benefiting from the embezzlement scandal, the calls for his resignation only got louder when the second report by the CCS/CA provided details on how his business benefited from siphoning off money meant for fixing roads.
Meanwhile, not all are happy with the nomination of a new Prime Minister because they do not see this as resolving the crises facing the nation. Some of the political parties and civil society organizations have always maintained that the President does not have the legitimacy to address the crises facing the nation, much less, find sustainable solutions to them. According to Rosemond Pradel, leader of the Fusion des sociaux-démocrates (Fusion), this nomination coming 4 months after the government of Jean Henry Céant was dissolved on March 18, 2019, will only prolong the crisis. Others still do not believe the President has any moral authority to continue leading the country. This at least is the sentiment of groups such as la plateforme paysanne 4 je kontre and the Mouvman peyizan nasyonal kongrè Papay (MPNKP), whose leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste declared that the president has lost any sense of leadership as a result of the massacre of July 6-8, 2018, when anti-government protesters were met with lethal force. He quipped, which politician, would be willing to sit down and work with this President? Because even among his own allies, dissentions are growing.
Talking about the crises facing the nation, security has preoccupied residents in the capital for quite some time now and most would be relieved to hear that the police have reported apprehending the reputed gang leader Arnel Joseph, who controlled the Village de Dieu neighborhood. According to Police Commissioner Michel-Ange Gédéon, Arnel Joseph was arrested at a hospital in Cavaillon, a town in the Cayes commune, where he was undergoing surgery. The police were unsuccessful on April 4, 2019 when the notorious gang leader escaped their grip and retreated to his village, Poste Pierrot in the Artibonite department. The surprising aspect of this arrest is the fact that his connection to powerful people in high places in the country and the police department captivated the population and at the same time created doubt in the minds of the people that the security forces or the authorities would actually seek to arrest him, and that he was captured and not killed means a lot as many people are eager to hear from him the nature and roots of insecurity in the country.
In other news, the Canadian branch of Lawyers Without Borders, in conjunction with the Haitian School of Magistrates, organized a workshop from July 16, though July 19, 2019 at the Hotel Karibe, in order to help strengthen the capacity of judges and lawyers in using legal tools to apply the law on juvenile offenders. Some thirty lawyers and judges took part in this workshop which educates them on the rights of children in conflict with the law and serves as part of the “Access to Justice and Fighting Against Impunity in Haiti” project which aims to strengthen the protection and implementation of the rights of vulnerable citizens such as women, minors and detainees.
Finally, the much talked about ICE mass deportation of illegal immigrants announced by President Donald Trump did not come to fruition as feared, according to John Fritzgerald Résignac, one of the leaders in the Haitian community in Spring Valley, New York. He asserted that the threat has scared away many immigrants from public places, including children shying away from school in the 10 major cities that the operation targeted. Though the mass deportations did not take place, he said that the President will still resort to it in his larger policy proposals. The threat generally applies to the 2 million people who are already in the legal system, and at any time, the administration could extend the policy to those immigrants in the process of regularizing the status. Mr. Résignac, who heads the Easy FM radio further, stated that the threat of deportation may well serve the dual purpose of reducing the cost of deportation to the government as people may choose to voluntarily leave the country, and also galvanize his electoral base. He said it costs over US$20,000 to deport each immigrant. He further encourages people to go about their regular activities, noting that the average American is not a necessarily mean, and that they support a path to citizenship for immigrants, in general, which is easier said than done.