Haiti’s government is undergoing yet another makeover.
As part of a political deal to help build confidence in upcoming elections, Haiti announced a cabinet reshuffle Wednesday — at least the fifth since President Michel Martelly’s May 2011 inauguration.
The changes include several new faces in the government, and the return of a familiar one: Former Minister of Economy and Finance Marie-Carmelle Jean-Marie will return to the job a year after she abruptly resigned amid frustrations over how the country’s shoestring finances were being handled.
Also joining the government in Port-au-Prince will be Haiti’s long-time ambassador to the Organization of American States, Duly Brutus, and Miami Consul General Francois Guillaume.
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Brutus, who celebrates 10 years at the OAS this month, will serve as foreign minister, replacing Pierre-Richard Casimir. Guillaume has been appointed minister in charge of Haitians Living Abroad. His appointment comes 10 months after fellow South Florida resident Bernice Fidelia resigned after a Senate investigation into her nationality.
The cabinet was officially announced late Wednesday evening — via Twitter by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe — after a day of speculation, horse trading and changing names.It is part of a package of agreements the executive, parliament and some opposition parties signed off on after two months in negotiations mediated by the Roman Catholic Church.
The negotiations were aimed at breaking a crippling political impasse in hopes of staging long-overdue legislative and local elections. The ongoing crisis has triggered anti-government protests and discontent in Haiti, which is still struggling to recover from its devastating January 2010 earthquake.
Late Tuesday, the chamber of deputies took a pivotal step toward elections by unanimously passing a draft electoral law setting the ground rules for the fall balloting.
It is now up to Haiti’s Senate, where six of the 20 members said in a letter to the Senate president that they object to the political deal clearing the way for the electoral law to be voted upon. But a lot is at stake, including international donor support.
“Haiti continues to show great promise and we want to continue to support them,” U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, said after returning from an overnight visit Saturday. “One characteristic of a democracy is you have to have elections and govern democratically.”
Deputy Levaillant Louis-Jeune, a former president of the chamber, said the electoral law was approved with some caveats.
They include: interim mayors wishing to run for local office must resign 15 days after the electoral law is published; if the first round of balloting doesn’t take place by Oct. 26, then at midnight that day the term of the electoral commission will end.
Deputies also agreed to remove a requirement that 30 percent of the slate be female, and instead agreed that the government should provide financial incentives to political parties to encourage female participation.