Haiti: Jack Guy Lafontant sworn in as Prime Minister

Haiti's prime minister, Jack Guy Lafontant

Urges citizens to heal divisions

Haiti’s new prime minister on Tuesday urged this deeply polarized country to bridge divisions, and he vowed to bring steady advances even while acknowledging that the struggling nation has no shortage of accelerating problems.

Jack Guy Lafontant – a physician and formerly a professor of gastroenterology and political outsider – was approved as Haiti’s No. 2 official after clearing a final parliamentary hurdle early in the day, took the oath of office in front of politicians and dignitaries on the grounds of the national palace.

“Time is serious and the legacy is heavy. I inherited the prime minister’s job at a time when inflation is rampant, the depreciation of the (Haitian) gourd is accelerating, and where agriculture, the main backbone of our economy, continues to lose its competitiveness,” Lafontant said.

Haitian dream is possible

He stressed that significant progress in Haiti will be possible only by bringing its people together and providing opportunities for citizens to demonstrate their “know-how and expertise.”
“The Haitian dream is possible. It cannot be done without the unity of its daughters and sons,” he said.

After 19 hours of debate and discussion, the Chamber of Deputies voted early Tuesday to approve Lafontant and his government policy.
Six lawmakers voted against him, 2 abstained and 95 voted in favor. The Senate had approved him previously.

Lafontant, was the first pick of President Jovenel Moïse to oversee the Cabinet and run the government’s day-to-day operations.

He has said agriculture will be the government’s investment priority, echoing comments by Moïse, who was an agricultural entrepreneur before being elected president. Like Moïse, Lafontant is a first-time public office-holder.

During his swearing-in ceremony, Lafontant said Haiti needs “deep reforms” in the severely underfunded health sector, a “non-stop struggle” against corruption, and improvements to education.

Many Haitians are hopeful that Moïse and his Tet Kale party – which has a majority in parliament – will make steady improvements to tackle poverty and the economic malaise in the country

Moïse said he was eager to get his administration moving.
“Every second, every minute counts. We do not have time to waste,” he said.

Source: Associated Press