PORT-AU-PRINCE – In a move that can set back Haiti’s progress, Haitian Prime Minister Michelle Pierre-Louis will face the Senate Thursday to answer calls for her resignation.
“The government of Mrs. Pierre-Louis has not delivered the goods, that’s why it must leave,” said Senator Yvon Buissereth. He is one six senators behind the motion. They say Pierre-Louis has performed poorly and hold her government accountable for what they say is the mismanagement of $197 million in emergency funds issued in the wake of a series of hurricanes and tropical storms that battered Haiti last year.
In an address to the nation on Tuesday, the Prime Minister defended her record over the past year saying her government had helped improve the country’s image abroad and was on track to create 26,000 new jobs by the end of the year.
Pierre-Louis said she respected the right of senators to call for her resignation but she criticized them for having done so while she was out of the country. She added that if she were forced out, she would leave office with her “head held high.”
The Prime Minister also proposed a series of audits into how the emergency funds had been spent.
Some politicians including Senator Youri Latortue say President Preval is behind the affair and that he is seeking to consolidate his control over government ahead of next year’s Presidential elections. Four of the six senators leading the charge against the Prime Minister are from Preval’s Lespwa party which controls 18 of 29 seats in the senate.
“I believe (Preval) is behind the recall,” said Latortue. “It was done by senators who are very close to the President.”
While he thought the Prime Minister’s record was mixed, Latortue said the timing was bad. “We need to preserve the stability of government,” said Latortue, “to lay the groundwork to attract foreign investment.” The senator said he believed those opposing the Prime Minister probably had the votes to succeed.
So far President Preval has made no public declarations on the matter but Senator Joseph Lambert, one of the six lawmakers seeking the Prime Minister’s removal, said Preval had called them to the National palace on Tuesday to dissuade them.
The Prime Minister’s year in office has been marked by relative political stability after food riots last year toppled the government of Jacques Edouard Alexis in April. A series of Prime Ministerial candidates were rejected and Pierre Louis’ wasn’t sworn in until September of 2008.
The U.S. ambassador, who earlier this month voiced his support for Pierre-Louis, did not comment on the matter, nor did the United Nations peacekeeping mission. But the European Union’s representative in Haiti Fancesco Gosetti di Sturmeck said he would have preferred continuity. The EU is currently negotiating $40 million in budgetary support with the government.