Haitian prime minister likely on way out


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — As Haiti’s lawmakers appeared poised
to reject a last-minute plea from Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis to delay
Thursday’s vote to oust her, the international community appeared resigned to
accept her likely dismissal.

Meanwhile, Haitian President Rene Preval, who dined with
former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis and Central Bank Governor Charles
Castel on Tuesday, continued to distance himself from the move by a small but
powerful group of senators to remove Pierre-Louis. The senators have said that
she has moved too slowly to solve Haiti’s problems.

Pierre-Louis replaced Alexis 13 months ago, and Preval has
confirmed to Haitian politicians and foreign diplomats that he has already
chosen a replacement: Jean-Max Bellerive, minister of Planning and External

Bellerive, who has worked in the government for the past two
decades, is well-known among the international community.

According to several sources, Pierre-Louis tried
unsuccessfully with Preval and lawmakers to delay the proceedings on her
tenure. In meetings with the foreign diplomats, Preval has said he doesn’t
control lawmakers and prolonging the inevitable would only invite instability.
On Wednesday, Pierre-Louis continued to consult with advisers, debating whether
to appear before parliament or allow them to decide her fate without her. But
even as diplomats reiterated their support for Pierre-Louis, their message was
clear: Move quickly.

Robert Fatton, a University of Virginia politics professor
and Haiti expert, said he’s not surprised.

“The international community wants stability,
predictability, and a government favorable to Bill Clinton’s business
investment project,” Fatton said. “Whether it’s Michele Pierre-Louis
or not is irrelevant especially since she has no political base. If Preval can
deliver a new government without delay, the U.S., Canada and France will accept
the change. Michele Pierre-Louis is simply expendable.”

But Pierre-Louis is refusing to leave without a fight — even
if she is a no-show Thursday. In a speech to the nation Tuesday, she questioned
senators’ methods, saying: “I regret that the parliamentarians did this
the old fashion way: waited for my absence from the country to deliver a
letter. They could have done it in a more elegant manner.”

She also defended herself against accusations by some
lawmakers that she mismanaged $197 million from Hugo Chavez’s Petrocaribe
discounted oil savings to rebuild roads and public buildings after last year’s
series of storms. She has publicly called for three independent audits in an
attempt to clear her name.

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.


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