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Nominated Prime Minister Fritz William Michel in search of ratification

The newly nominated Prime Minister Fritz William Michel has been making the rounds with legislative leaders and other political groups and players to gain acceptance and familiarity with his chosen cabinet and possible ratification of his policies and confirmation of his cabinet. While he’s busy trying to rally the lawmakers to his side, some are publicly expressing their opposition to anything short of the departure of the current President Jovenel Moïse, but the Deputy from Pestel, Ronald Etienne has assured that the newly named PM could garner 70 percent of the representatives, ensuring his confirmation. But the ratification process takes about two months, time in which the lawmakers investigate the nominated Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers.

President Moïse has been warning about the dangers of not confirming his choice for Prime Minister in time by urging law makers to handle the investigative process with diligence and speed. According to the President, the Prime Minister is a brilliant civil servant who has devoted his entire career to the service of the nation and he, the President has made this particular choice, in concert with both houses of the legislature in order to put an end to the never ending political paralysis that is hurting a lot of innocent citizens. He implores the legislature to approve the government quickly in order for them to get to work and address some of the pressing problems facing the nation such as food shortage, security, unemployment and infrastructure development.  The newly appointed cabinet is indeed a new one in the sense that there are no reappointed Ministers and the President therefore feels strongly that he has met the demands of the opposition lawmakers. He therefore calls on them to approve the Prime Ministers’ policy positions for the legislature to release the budget, as well as millions in international aid, necessary to provide for the Haitian people.

Meanwhile, the quick appointment of the new Prime Minister is being questioned by some as the machinations of the US government in the affairs of a sovereign state. According to Mario Joseph of the International Bar Association, Bureau des avocats internationaux (BAI), the new appointment was made at the request of the US government, which is a violation of the right to self determination by the Haitian people, during a press conference on Thursday, July 25, 2019.  Together with the Mouvement de liberté d’égalité des Haïtiens pour la fraternité (Moleghaf) and le Kolektif atis angaje (Katan), the BAI planned a patriotic vigil for this past Saturday, with rara groups in attendance. These activities are planned to coincide with the 104th anniversary of the first US occupation of Haiti July 28, 1915 to July 28, 2019. Most critics see the US as strongly supporting the embattled President, who is also implicated in the PetroCaribe embezzlement scandal.

Talking about PetroCaribe, Gaétan Jean and a group of 50 young civil engineers have filed a complaint in civil court in Port-au-Prince against the President on Monday, charging him with forgery, impersonation, corruption and fraud in relation to the scandal. At a press conference, the group reiterated that their complaint was more professional than political because according to them, President Jovenel Moïse has passed of as an engineer to get contracts with the Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Communication (MTPTC) through his AgriTrans business, to undertake public works in the North of the country. The suit also lists the former Ministers of Public Works and that of Economy and Finance, Jacques Rousseau and Wilson Laleau for approving the contracts in the first place.

In other news, a press conference Monday, July 29, 2019, was the venue for both the Economic forum and some civil society organizations to release a document with their own proposals to get the country out of the impasse. Some of the issues the document focused on include corruption, resignation of the President, strengthening state institutions, depoliticization of the national police, and the formation of a transitional government. The document was made public in the presence of such luminaries as the president of the human rights network, (RNDDH) and the unionist Dominique Saint Eloi. Notably absent at the meeting were members of the democratic sector. With regards to the PetroCaribe scandal, the group, and more specifically, the leader of the Economic Forum, Frantz Bernard Craan decided on the formation of a special tribunal or college to question those cited in the report as the real embezzlers. With regards to the President’s resignation, the leader of the private sector businesses group was more demurred and not forthcoming. He expressed reservations on the departure of the President because his concerns are that the country is facing socio-economic, political, security and other problems, and the country is effectively not being run but the businessman doesn’t see an immediate departure from office but a gradual and orderly regime change.

Elsewhere, the former Deputy from Delmas, Arnel Bélizaire, who publicly spoke on his connections with certain individuals implicated in the La Saline massacre in November 2018 is expected to appear before Judge Chavannes Étienne, as a witness, in the case against the two notorious gang leaders, Jimmy Cerisier, aka Barbecue, Gregory Antoine, aka Ti greg and Iscar Andris, who were charged with rape, assassination and armed robbery.

Finally, a light earthquake, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale hit the western part of the island on Tuesday July 30th, at 7:34 – 55 a.m., in a area, 2k West of Bainet (southern department) 40km southwest of Léogâne and 65km southwest of Port-au-Prince. While most people took to social media to relate their experience during the earthquake, there has not been an official announcement of possible casualties.

Dela Harlley

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