Laurent Lamothe resigns as Haitian PM

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Laurent Lamothe during a foreign visit earlier this year.
Image: U.S. Department of State.

Laurent Lamothe on Saturday announced his resignation as Prime Minister of Haiti amid political paralysis and anti-regime protests.

Lamothe's resignation had been recommended on Friday by a commission set up by President Michel Martelly. Martelly appointed Lamothe in 2011, the year after a major earthquake caused widespread devastation. Elections to the Senate, Lower Chamber, and numerous municipal offices were also due in 2011.

The Senate must approve amended electoral law before the votes can occur. At least sixteen of the thirty Senate members must attend to make a quorum. Only twenty places are presently filled, and six opposition members are refusing to attend.

The opposition accuses the government of unfairly favouring themselves with the amendments. In response the government claims opposition politicians wish to delay the votes to retain their seats. Hundreds of municipal seats, all of the Lower House, and most of the Senate all require elected. If votes are not in by January 12 the Senate will be reduced to a defunct ten members.

Lamothe told TV audiences "I am leaving the post of prime minister this evening with a feeling of accomplishment. Vive Haiti." The nation remains one of the poorest in the world but last year foreign investment was worth US$186 million (£118 million; 149 million), a 20% increase. He also says 84% of children are in education now, compared to 52% when he was appointed.

His social media savvy and multiple languages helped him develop a high profile at home and abroad. He also attempted to simplify business startups, and campaigned with tourism minister Stephanie Villedrouin to improve Haiti's image abroad. He was Martelly's third choice for Prime Minister, with Parliament rejecting his first two appointments. Lamothe's three-year term witnessed three cabinet reshuffles.

Protests over missed elections began in October, with citizens taking to the streets to demand Martelly and Lamothe both resign. The sometimes violent protests have not abated despite Martelly forming the eleven-strong commission late last month to try and reach a resolution.

Martelly has already indicated he accepts the commission's findings. Also recommended are resignations by the electoral commission and the head of the Supreme Court.