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28425: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti's Preval picks close ally as PM-designate
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, May 22 (Reuters) - Haiti's newly inaugurated
president, Rene Preval, has designated a longtime friend and ally to be the
troubled Caribbean country's new prime minister, officials said on Monday.
Jacques Edouard Alexis, 58, an agronomist who served as prime minister
during Preval's first presidency from 1996-2001, is widely seen as a good
political deal-maker and pragmatist.
"We have a lot of challenges ahead of us and I think we'll have a
chance to work with other sectors to advance the cause of the country,"
Alexis told Reuters.
Preval was installed on May 14 as Haiti's first elected ruler since
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in an armed revolt in
He, and the government under him, face daunting challenges in uniting
a country whose rich and poor are bitterly divided, and where the bulk of
the population lives in abject poverty.
Preval wrote on Sunday to the presidents of both the upper and lower
houses of parliament to officially inform them of his choice, after he had
consulted with them on the matter as required by Haiti's constitution.
Legislators will have to approve the president's choice.
While presidents have tended to exert the most influence in Haiti's
short and troubled experience of democracy, under the country's
constitution it should be the prime minister who dictates government
Preval's coalition, know as "Lespwa" for hope, has 11 of the 27 Senate
seats where election results are definitive. The votes of 14 senators are
needed to approve the nomination of the prime minister.
The task could be more difficult in the lower house, where Lespwa has
only 20 of the 85 seats declared so far from elections that took place on
There are 30 seats in the Haitian Senate and 99 in the Chamber of
Alexis has previously served as interior minister and education
minister, in addition to being prime minister during Preval's first term.
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