In an exclusive briefing with the Washington Post, the leader of Haiti’s Parliament – who is also its Speaker – said Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant needs to resign as the country lurches toward elections.
“The country, the voter, believes that this is not the person that should head the country,” said Senate President Joe Louis L’Angelle, who held talks Saturday with presidential candidates to support a possible government shakeup. “All these problems are affecting the youth of this country. It’s affecting the inflation, it’s affecting the unemployment rate, the devaluation of the dollar, the debt. The only thing we need is to put together a government that can improve the situation of the youth.”
Lafontant, a member of a powerful family of political and business elites, could not be reached for comment.
The prime minister is overseeing preparations for an election to select a successor to President Jovenel Moïse, whose controversial re-election last November sparked days of street demonstrations by frustrated voters.
Riots followed the constitutional court’s ruling that the president’s election results were lawful and constitutional.
Lafontant has stated that no election can take place until Parliament is seated. Parliament has been disbanded, and Haiti’s 70-year civil war means it has no government or police force.
Lafontant has been criticised for going against the desires of the people. Several of his closest allies have resigned or been forced out of government. Police and lawmakers have also been bickering over a huge corruption scandal linked to party financing.
But the political impasse has worsened the suffering of many Haitians. It remains to be seen whether Lafontant’s supporters – including several lawmakers in the Congress – will support the call for him to resign.
The top priority of the Trump administration is to make sure elections take place in the country this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week.
The prime minister’s stewardship of Haitian politics has resulted in political paralysis and an economic crisis that has resulted in persistent food shortages, according to Haitian government figures and the United Nations.
One in three children under age five suffers from severe malnutrition, the U.N. agency Children’s Fund said this week. Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.
Presidential candidates and other prominent Haitians have publicly called for changes in the country’s government structure. While the various parties continue to bicker and demand changes in the government, many remain hopeful of a turnaround.
The president’s party, known as the PNP, and the Democratic Front for Change have reportedly engaged in some debate over which members of the government should be fired or replaced.
“I will try to find a solution,” L’Angelle said. “The country is suffering, the people are suffering. It is time for the best people to head the government.”