PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti has a new Prime Minister designate.
President Preval named Jean-Max Bellerive as his choice on Friday Oct. 30, hours after the Senate voted to remove Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis.
Prior to his appointment, Bellerive was the Minister for Planning and External Cooperation in Pierre-Louis’ cabinet. Trained as an economist, Bellerive is a seasoned public servant having served under Prime Ministers Jean Marie Cherestal and Yvon Neptune.
In naming a new Prime Minister, Preval called for a quick transition as parliament gets set to vote on the nomination.
Pierre-Louis’ removal provoked little public reaction in the country. On the day the Senate met to discuss her fate, a handful of protesters for and against the Prime Minister demonstrated peacefully outside parliament.
The choice of Bellerive sends a reassuring signal to the international community said political scientist Robert Fatton, an expert on Haiti at the University of Virginia.
As Pierre-Louis ouster looked increasingly likely last week, foreign governments and international organizations including the European Union and the Organization of American States warned Haitian politicians against unleashing a new period of political turmoil fearing it could set back recent efforts to stabilize the country and increase foreign investment.
On Friday, the U.S., Haiti’s biggest aid donor, and the UN, which has had a peacekeeping mission in the country since 2004, both praised Prime Minister Pierre-Louis’ work during her 14 months in office and called for a swift transition.
Pierre-Louis’ removal was led by a handful of senators, most belonging to President Preval’s Lespwa party. They said her government had done little to improve the living conditions of most Haitians. They also accused her government of mishandling nearly $200 million in petrol credits from Venezuela earmarked for emergency relief after Haiti was hit by a series of devastating hurricanes and tropical storms last year.
The vote to oust Pierre-Louis came early Friday morning after a tumultuous 10-hour session. The Prime Minister, who had been called to answers questions, refused to attend the session saying she had been prejudged and that the Senate had already decided to remove her.
A number of senators denounced the decision to fire Pierre-Louis and walk out before the vote, which they called illegal and unconstitutional. In the end the Senate voted 18-0 to remove the Prime Minister.
Pierre Louis ouster marks the second time parliament has voted to replace a Prime Minister since Preval began his second term in 2006. Last year, following riots sparked by rising food prices, the government of Jacques-Edouard Alexis was voted out, leaving Haiti without a Prime Minister until Pierre Louis and her cabinet were sworn in in September.