x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Haitian Senate fires prime minister

Prime minister Michele Pierre-Louis is removed from office by the Haitian Senate in a move that could imperil efforts to attract foreign investment.

PORT-AU-PRINCE // Prime minister Michele Pierre-Louis was removed from office by the Haitian Senate shortly after midnight this morning, in a move that could imperil efforts to attract foreign investment to the storm-wracked, impoverished country. The vote of 18 of 29 senators to censure Mrs Pierre-Louis - most voting against her were members of the president Rene Preval's party - also dissolves the cabinet.

Political instability could imperil efforts by the international community and Haitian leaders, including Mrs Pierre-Louis, to attract foreign money to the embattled Caribbean nation. Most of those voting against the prime minister, who is Haiti's head of government and was nominated by Mr Preval last year, were members of Mr Preval's own Lespwa party. They took control of the Senate just weeks ago after winning June elections praised by some international observers but marred by low turnout and fraud allegations.

Debate raged for more than nine hours, with senators storming out of the room, accusing each other of carrying weapons and marching up and down the aisle of the narrow chamber as Senate president Kelly Bastien rang a silver bell to call for order. But almost no time was devoted to discussion of the prime minister herself. Instead supporters - including some such as opposition senator Youri Latortue who held up her nomination last year - spent hours denouncing the process as illegal because of alleged procedural errors. Those planning to vote against her rarely spoke, and when they did usually just asked Mr Bastien to call for the vote.

Mrs Pierre-Louis took office in September 2008 as Haiti was being pummeled by one of four tropical storms and hurricanes that killed nearly 800 people, left tens of thousands homeless and caused US$1 billion in damage. She filled a post that had been vacant for five months after senators dismissed her predecessor during riots over the high cost of food. * AP