Haiti’s president names new prime minister to tackle crisis

Haiti's president Jovenel Moise on Monday named a new prime minister to tackle the country's worsening socio-political and security crisis.…

Haiti’s president Jovenel Moise on Monday named a new prime minister to tackle the country’s worsening socio-political and security crisis.

“Following consultations with different sectors, I have decided on Joute Joseph as new prime minister,” Moise said on his official Twitter account.

“He is tasked with forming, as soon as possible, a government of transparency and consensus, capable of rising to the challenges of the moment,” he said.

Joseph has been environment minister since September 2018 and was also appointed interim minister of the economy and finance in September 2019. He replaced Jean-Michel Lapin, who had been acting prime minister.

Haiti has been in deep crisis since the resignation in March 2019 of prime minister Jean-Henry Ceant. Joseph is the third person Moise has appointed to the post since then.

The legislature has never approved any of his nominees, hampering the government’s ability to function: elections could not be held last autumn and parliament has not been in session since January. That means Joseph’s appointment cannot be ratified, according to constitutional rules.

Political talks that began last summer to find a way to form a new government came to nothing and the opposition is demanding that Moise step down before any further discussion can even begin.

Popular anger has been focused on Moise since the High Court of Accounts announced in May 2019 that he was suspected of involvement in a huge corruption scandal that stretches back a decade.

The ever-deepening crisis has slammed the brakes on domestic and international investment, leading to massive unemployment levels and an inflation rate topping 20 percent, which has made the impoverished nation even poorer.

A third of the population now faces severe food insecurity, the last stage before famine, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

The country has also faced a sudden surge in the number of kidnappings for ransom, together with a rise in the usual gang-related violence in its poorer neighborhoods.

A French employee of the WFP was freed last Thursday, two days after she was abducted in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.