Haiti’s new government sworn in amid political stalemate

BBC News

Haiti’s prime minister has appointed a new cabinet amid ongoing political turmoil.

The new ministers were sworn in in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and are tasked with forming a new government.

They replace the outgoing ministers – long-serving prime minister Laurent Lamothe and his cabinet – along with other high-level officials.

The day before, Haitians had rioted in parts of the capital, burning tyres and shooting in the air in protest at the appointment of a new, interim government.

Tense political truce

The swearing-in of the new government comes amid a tense political truce between Haiti’s two largest political parties, the Lavalas party and the Union for Democracy and Progress, and their political rivals.

They were expected to be sworn in for a “temporary” period of six months, according to UN diplomats.

However, as campaigning for next year’s presidential elections began in Haiti, the UN has urged both sides to negotiate a solution to the crisis and to back the appointment of a technocratic government that can set the stage for Haiti’s next presidential election.

The country has been without a democratically elected president since 2010, when then-President Rene Preval stepped down to run in this year’s elections.

But those elections were postponed indefinitely following a violent revolt by supporters of now-deposed former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Limping aid budget

The UN and the European Union – both of which support the Lavalas party – have both confirmed that $540m (£341m) of Haiti’s aid budget of nearly $2bn will be cut due to the political stalemate.

Washington has also said it will trim Haiti’s $500m-a-year aid budget.

According to a report by journalist Michael Shifter, there are also concerns that a Haitian Prime Minister may be unable to pass the aid legislation required for the US to release $51m of Haiti’s US$270m remaining aid for the year.

For now, the country’s economy is struggling, as many of its 12 million people are faced with severe unemployment and widespread food insecurity.

In 2016, the economy contracted by more than 6%, after a 7% decline in 2015.

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