PORT-AU-PRINCE – After 14 hours of debate, the Haitian Senate approved on Thursday the government plan submitted by the political novice named as prime minister by President Jovenel Moise.
The vote in favor of the program of Prime Minister-designate Jack Guy Lafontant was 20-0 with seven abstentions.
The discussion and vote on Lafontant was delayed several days due to a lack of a quorum in the Senate.
The 55-year-old physician with no previous experience in public life was appointed Feb. 23, two weeks after Moise began a five-year term as president of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Lafontant now faces a confidence vote in the lower house, which has the power to reject him and force Moise to nominate someone else.
Moise, who only entered politics in 2015, took office Feb. 7 after a long-delayed election whose results were rejected by Haiti’s major opposition parties.
Then-head of state Michel Martelly picked the banana exporter as the candidate of the ruling PHTK in the October 2015 presidential election. Moise prevailed in that contest, but the results were ultimately thrown out due to serious irregularities.
A week after Martelly’s term officially ended in early February 2016, Jocelerme Privert was named interim president pending a fresh vote.
That vote had been scheduled for Oct. 9, 2016, but was postponed because of the impact of Hurricane Matthew, which left 573 people dead, forced 175,000 from their homes and led to food shortages that affected around 800,000 residents of a country still suffering from the aftereffects of a devastating 2010 earthquake.