Haiti’s president picks new prime minister to tackle socio-political crisis

Haitian President Jovenel Moise on Monday appointed a new prime minister to fight the worsening socio-political and security crisis in the country.

The decree appointing Joseph Jouthe to this post was published in the official government journal after Moise made the announcement on Twitter – but with a different spelling than Jouthe’s name.

“Following consultations with different sectors, I decided that Joute Joseph would be the new Prime Minister,” said Moise on his official Twitter account.

“It is responsible for forming, as soon as possible, a government of transparency and consensus, capable of meeting the challenges of the moment,” he said.

Jouthe has been Minister of the Environment since September 2018 and was also appointed acting Minister of 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. Jouthe is the third person Moise has named since then.

Legislators have never approved any of its candidates, which hinders the government’s ability to function: elections could not take place last fall and Parliament has not sat since January.

This means that Jouthe’s appointment cannot be ratified, in accordance with the constitutional rules.

The political talks that started last summer to find a way to form a new government have come to nothing and the opposition demands that Mr. Moses withdraw before any further discussion can begin.

Popular anger has focused on Moise since the High Court of Auditors announced in May 2019 that he was suspected of being involved in a huge corruption scandal that dates back a decade.

The worsening crisis has dampened national and international investment, resulting in massive unemployment rates and an inflation rate of up to 20%, which has made the impoverished nation even poorer.

A third of the population today faces severe food insecurity, the last step before famine, according to the World Food Program (WFP).

The country has also faced a sudden increase in the number of kidnappings for ransom, as well as an increase in the usual gang-related violence in its poorest urban neighborhoods.

A French WFP worker was released last Thursday, two days after her abduction in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.