A longtime presidential adviser and administrative law professor has received the green light from Haiti’s Senate to help lead the country to elections with a caretaker government.
Senators voted 20-0 late Thursday in favor of Enex Jean-Charles’ general policy statement and new government. Jean-Charles soon headed next door to the Lower Chamber of Deputies, where the ratification hearing was still going on after 1 a.m.
“I am prime minister. Once you give me a vote of confidence, I will fully be prime minister,” Jean-Charles told deputies during his hearing that began after 10 p.m. Haiti time (EST).
On Sunday, deputies rejected the policy statement of interim President Jocelerme Privert’s first prime minister pick, economist Fritz Jean, effectively firing him and clearing the way for Jean-Charles’ designation by Privert.
Jean-Charles’ hearing was supposed to start at 10 a.m. Thursday. But a group of deputies played hardball with Privert, refusing to provide a quorum for the hearing until a list of demands had been met. Among the requests: a new election date for the twice postponed presidential and partial legislative runoffs, and the publication of mayoral results. The results’ publication had been put on hold pending the naming of new members to the Provisional Electoral Council.
Whether the deputies’ demands were met is unclear. But soon after the Senate’s vote of confidence, 75 deputies gathered at their seats to begin their ratification proceedings.
But rather than use the hearing to debate Jean-Charles’ policy statement, deputies, like senators, used the hearing to discuss the myriad of problems facing their constituencies. At the same time, they called on Jean-Charles to redress the economy, agriculture and the environment, and establish long-term public security.
“This is a provisional government,” president of the chamber Cholzer Chancy said after several of the grandiose requests. “The government’s mandate will be limited.”
Under the political agreement guiding the caretaker government, Haiti’s interim administration should not last more than 120 days, and its main priority is to organize new elections as soon as possible. Though the government should be a consensus one, some lawmakers raised concerns about the lack of a presidential decree detailing who will occupy the 18 ministries under Jean-Charles’ control.
“I don’t know the people who make up your team; I would like for you to present me your government,” one deputy said.
As a result of Senate negotiations, for example, three new cabinet appointments were made at the last minute. Among them: former presidential candidate Aviol Fleurant was made planning minister, and Camille Edouard Jr. was given the job of justice minister.
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