Haiti’s Senate Approves Prime Minister-Designate

Haiti’s prime minister-designate has cleared the first major hurdle toward reaching office.

Jack Guy Lafontant was approved early Thursday in the Senate by a vote of 20-0, with seven lawmakers abstaining. He still has to be approved by the lower house and its 119 members. A date has not been set for the balloting.

The Senate vote came at roughly 6:30 a.m. local time, capping nearly 17 straight hours of deliberations about Lafontant’s record and his proposed policies.

A physician, he has never previously held public office; like new President Jovenel Moise, he’s a member of the Bald Heads Party (PHTK).

Lafontant’s tax history came up briefly during the Senate debate. He had been delinquent on his taxes for five years, paying only when he was nominated.

A Senate confirmation hearing on Lafontant initially had been scheduled for last Monday, but four lawmakers – including three from his own party – walked out, eliminating the possibility of a quorum and delaying the hearing. The four reportedly were seeking more of a power-sharing arrangement. It is not clear whether they were successful – but they were among the seven who refrained from casting votes Thursday.

VOA Creole service stringer Renan Toussaint contributed to this report from Port-au-Prince

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