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article imageHaiti lawmakers to vote Saturday on PM's fate

By AFP     Jul 13, 2018 in World

Lawmakers in Haiti will vote Saturday on the fate of embattled Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant, who has refused to resign in the wake of deadly looting and violence sparked by a now-abandoned plan to raise fuel prices.

"People of Haiti! I have a date with history in Parliament on Saturday, July 14 at 10 am, to respond to opposition deputies and speak about the achievements of the government," Lafontant said Friday on Twitter.

"The hopes of the Haitian people are in the hands of the lawmakers."

A week ago, the government in the impoverished Caribbean country announced plans for major fuel price hikes -- 38 percent for gasoline, 47 percent for diesel and 51 percent for kerosene.

The announcement sparked mass protests, with streets in the capital Port-au-Prince and other cities blocked with barricades of debris and burning tires.

Dozens of shops were looted and burned and cars were set ablaze. At least four people were killed. The government quickly did an about-face and called off the planned price increases.

Lafontant, who took office in February 2017, had faced widespread criticism even before the spasm of violence.

Last week, lawmakers opened debate on his future in the lower house, where President Jovenel Moise's allies hold the majority. Lafontant, a doctor by training and a political novice, is a friend of the president.

But some say the fuel-price fiasco could spell the fall of Lafontant's administration.

The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Gary Bodeau, told AFP that he was working with Lafontant and national police to ensure the safety of the lawmakers, amid fears the session could spark violence.

Lafontant -- who will be accompanied by his ministers -- is expected to address lawmakers at the start of the session. After that, deputies will be able to speak and ask him questions.

At the end of the debate, an absolute majority is needed to either oust Lafontant or allow him to continue in office.

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