The day after a July 21, 2019 meeting at his private residence with the president of Haiti's Senate and the president of the Lower Chamber, Moïse nominated Fritz William Michel, a civil servant with the Finance Ministry, as the new prime minister:
Les Présidents des deux branches du parlement rencontrent le Chef de l’Etat @moisejovenel, ce soir, autour du choix d’un nouveau PM et de la formation d’un gouvernement d’exception capables de répondre aux préoccupations de l’heure.#Haiti
— Gary Bodeau (@garybodeau) July 21, 2019
The presidents of the two branches of parliament meet the Head of State @moisejovenel, tonight, about the choice of a new PM and the formation of an exceptional government able to answer the concerns of the hour. #Haiti
Pour faire face aux urgences de l’heure,et suite à la démission de M. Lapin, j’ai fait choix,en consultation avec les présidents du Sénat et de la Chambre des Députés,du citoyen Fritz William Michel comme PM, en attendant la ratification de sa Déclaration de politique générale.
— Président Jovenel Moïse (@moisejovenel) July 22, 2019
To cope with the urgencies of the day, and following the resignation of Mr. Lapin, I chose, in consultation with the Presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, the citizen Fritz William Michel as PM, while waiting ratification of his policy statement.
Nomination du 4ème Premier Ministre de Jovenel Moïse!
Fritz William MICHEL! pic.twitter.com/qQY1JEDsPx
— Jean-Junior JOSEPH (@jeanjuniorj) July 22, 2019
Appointment of the 4th Prime Minister of Jovenel Moïse!
Fritz William MICHEL!
Michel will replace Jean Michel Lapin who, since his nomination in April, has never got the opportunity to present his general policy or get it ratified by Haiti's parliament. Because of several boycotts of the ratification sessions by a group of four senators, Lapin was unable to demonstrate that he had a good grasp of the country's socio-economic reality, security challenges or gang violence issues.
Moïse has had a hard time keeping his prime ministers. His first, Jacques Guy Lafontant, was sacrificed a year ago in July 2018, after a series of violent protests began over an ever-deepening socio-economic crisis that tested the Moïse administration.
President Moïse then brought Jean-Henry Céant on board, who only lasted about six months as prime minister. Céant had announced measures to tackle the crisis, especially after the intense February protests, but before the country could feel the slightest impact of his measures, his uneasy cohabitation with the president, rooted to divergence on key political issues, led to the sudden revocation of his position in March 2019.
Now, Moïse is obliged to let go of Lapin, whom he initially believed could be a better collaborator than Céant. The question of whether Moïse's next candidate is more fit to face the current challenges — and has more of a chance to be ratified by parliament — is already a question many citizens are asking:
I’m told that #Haiti president Jovenel Moise wants former finance ministry employee Fritz William Michel to lead the country’s next government. Will he be able to get the votes in parliament? And will new government be same faces or new?
— Jacqueline Charles (@Jacquiecharles) July 22, 2019
Lapin confirmed that he submitted his resignation:
Le Premier ministre Jean Michel Lapin a confirmé au Nouvelliste en milieu de journée avoir remis sa démission au président Jovenel Moïse, le lundi 22 juillet 2019. « « J’ai fait un choix pour Haïti », a dit Lapin au journal. Cette démission ouvre la voie au choix d'un nouveau PM
— Frantz Duval (@Frantzduval) July 22, 2019
Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin confirmed to La Nouvelliste mid-day to having resigned to President Jovenel Moïse, Monday, July 22, 2019. “I made a choice for Haiti,” said Lapin to the newspaper. This resignation paves the way for choosing a new PM
Dommage que Jovenel Moise ne peut pas faire « un choix pour Haïti » en donnant sa démission également https://t.co/C75sAgpDXT
— Monique Clesca (@moniclesca) July 22, 2019
Too bad that Jovenel Moise cannot make “a choice for Haiti” by giving his resignation too
The newly nominated prime minister has already submitted his documents to the Lower Chamber as he awaits the opportunity to present his general policy. In fact, he has already formed a gender-balanced ministerial cabinet, but has, in the past, sparked serious controversy regarding poorly worded tweets that allegedly attacked members of the opposition and influential media personalities and lauded far right or conservative leaders such as US President Donald Trump, French politician Marine Le Pen and former Haitian president Michel Martelly.
Michel has rejected those allegations, but, his ability to get votes in the parliament aside, the Twitter controversy has already weakened his image and undermined his chances to be able to function in the prime ministerial role.
More concerned with image than issues?
While Moïse puts this new government in place, the nation's trust in his leadership continues to spiral downward. His administration weathered significant protests in June 2019, after the release of a second report from Haiti's High Court on PetroCaribe, which provided further details on the president's involvement in the corruption surrounding this regional energy programme spearheaded by Venezuela.
Haitians were also incensed over a July 12 op-ed that Moïse published in the Miami Herald, talking about the challenges of his administration. Some netizens felt Moïse addressed an international audience to polish Haiti's image rather than directly address Haitian citizens’ concerns.
In the same vein, citizens questioned Moïse's priorities when he hired a new lobbyist from Washington, DC, while the country's socio-economic crisis continues to deteriorate and the government is unable to pay its civil servants and diplomats:
Shame on the #Haiti government that hires a lobbying firm rather than pay its employees, feed its children, give health services to its population, provide justice to its citizens and ignores its population cries for accountability, yes SHAME Minister @BocchitEdmond https://t.co/8pexQcre1G
— Monique Clesca (@moniclesca) July 18, 2019
18,6% c’est le chiffre pour l’inflation de Juin 2019. La hausse des prix continue dans l’économie haïtienne. Le pays n’a pas connu une inflation annuelle aussi élevée depuis la période des Emeutes de la Faim de 2008. Les autorités perdent le contrôle. Il y a raison de s’inquiéter
— Etzer Emile (@etzeremile) July 19, 2019
18.6% is the figure for inflation in June 2019. The rise in prices continues in the Haitian economy. The country has not experienced such a high annual inflation since the 2008 Hunger Riot period. The authorities are losing control. There is reason to worry.
‘OAS’ hoax embarrassment
Challenged at home, Moïse seems to put more faith in international institutions. In June, feeling the heat from #PetroChallenger street protests, Moïse invited a mission from the Organization of American States (OAS) to calm the crisis. When citizens realized that the OAS did not mandate the mission, the invite was seen as an embarrassment. But Moïse boasted that Haiti is working with the OAS to create an independent group of international experts to do an audit of PetroCaribe, which some see as a blatant disregard of the Cour des Comptes report and Haitian institutions in general.
Moïse has promised a more open government that would include members of the opposition. Vocal sectors in the opposition and other groups such as the PetroChallengers, however, see Moïse's departure as the only way to resolve the crisis and move the country forward.