Haiti’s Prime Minister fired

Haiti’s Prime Minister fired

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, October 30, 2009 – After less than a year in office, Haiti’s Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis has been fired by the Senate.

Following a nine-hour sitting that began yesterday and lasted until after midnight, the Senate voted out Pierre-Louis over her failure to promote economic recovery on the heels of four storms last year, which devastated the already impoverished Caribbean nation.

The vote, which saw 29 Senators agreeing to her dismissal and 18 opposed to it, will also result in the dissolution of the Cabinet.

Most of those voting against Pierre-Louis were members of President Rene Preval’s party which took control of the Senate just weeks ago after winning the June elections.

One of them, Joseph Lambert, said Pierre-Louis had done nothing to improve living standards since she was appointed head of government last September.

But those who opposed the resolution to fire Pierre-Louis called the move unconstitutional and said lawmakers had no power to remove the head of government in a special session without explicit instructions from President Preval.

The Prime Minister had refused to attend yesterday’s session, where she was expected to answer questions about US$197 million earmarked to help Haiti recover from the storms that killed about 800 people, left tens of thousands homeless and caused US$1 billion in damage.

Instead, she sent a letter to Senate President Kelly Bastien explaining her absence.

“At a time when efforts are under way for Haiti to join the international community and it has possibilities of investment, national and international, to better the lives of the Haitian population…my government decides not to participate in this hearing,” Pierre-Louis wrote.

“I leave the senators of the republic to face their responsibility in front of the nation.”

Several senators criticised her for not attending, some calling it “an insult’, and a special vote had to be taken to allow the vote to take place in her absence.

Pierre-Louis filled the post of Prime Minister five months after her predecessor, Jacques-Edouard Alexis, was dismissed by the Senate during riots over the high cost of food.

She was the third person nominated for the job, after two of President Preval’s nominees were rejected by the Senate.