After nearly ten hours of debate on Thursday, Haiti’s Senate voted by a simple majority to remove Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis from office. She did not attend the special session where 18 of 29 Senators voted against her.
Appointed by President René Préval in September 2008, the Prime Minister has been criticized for her lack of political leadership and alleged involvement in corruption. Expectations for Haiti’s future had been further raised with the appointment of former President Bill Clinton as United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti in May.
But the vote was not without controversy. Senators supporting Pierre-Louis called the session unconstitutional and cited Article 107 of the Haitian Constitution. “If a special session is held in the Senate, Senators are under the strict obligation of respecting the agenda established by the government,” according to Senator Rudy Hérivaux.
During her tenure, Pierre-Louis had mainly focused on consolidating international support after the series of tropical storms that killed nearly 800 people last year. President Préval is said to be replacing her by Minister of Planning and External Cooperation Jean-Max Bellerive, who will have to be ratified by the National Assembly.
President Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic and President René Préval of Haiti agreed on Thursday to work together to eliminate mosquito-transmitted diseases on the island. The deal was struck under the auspices of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The 10-year, $200 million program is focused on the eradication of malaria and filariasis.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti are the only Caribbean countries still affected by malaria. According to authorities from both countries, 33,000 malaria cases with 200 deaths were reported in 2007; 90 percent of the cases were on the Haitian side of the border.
A pilot project run by the Carter Center began in 2008 with a $200,000 investment in the border towns Dajabon, Dominican Republic, and Ouanaminthe, Haiti. Hopes are high for the program’s success, with only minimal resistance by a few government officials—a good sign considering the lack of political will in the past.
Repeated emphasis has been made on the need for binational cooperation. Malaria is a threat to both economies as well as to their tourism.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) revealed at its annual conference in New York on Thursday 21 new projects, totaling a $258 million investment, for Haiti in 2010. These initiatives will be carried out together with other organizations such as actor Matt Damon’s Water.org—an initiative to improve sanitation and access to water for an estimated 50,000 people in Haiti. The U.S. Agency for International Development and Habitat for Humanity also pledged $4.5 million in 2010 to carry out repairs from last year’s hurricane that damaged 1,500 homes.
The Clinton Global Initiative’s contribution last year—an estimated $170 million—ran 31 programs on the island. The CGI was founded in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton, who was appointed UN Special Envoy to Haiti in May. Clinton met with Haitian President René Préval yesterday.