November 7, 2009 / 11:55 PM / 9 years ago

Haiti's new prime minister wins confirmation

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - The lower house of Haiti’s parliament confirmed Jean-Max Bellerive as prime minister on Saturday, clearing the way for the economist and veteran politician to form a new government.

An overwhelming majority of members in the Chamber of Deputies ratified Bellerive as the new premier of the impoverished Caribbean nation. He was appointed to the position by President Rene Preval last week.

The 52-2 vote came a day after Bellerive won unanimous confirmation in the Senate.

He is expected to be sworn into office by Preval sometime next week, after forming a cabinet and submitting his government plan for formal approval by parliament.

Bellerive, who is respected by diplomats and international donors, replaces Michele Pierre-Louis, who was fired as prime minister by the Senate on October 30 for allegedly failing to improve the country’s economy.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and has a long history of political violence and instability.

Bellerive has faced little or no opposition from Haiti’s lawmakers, even though some had opposed Pierre-Louis’ removal as unconstitutional and rejected criticism of her response to a series of devastating hurricanes and storms in 2008.

“Our only concern is to make sure that he brings concrete answers to the population’s day-to-day problems,” said Saurel Francois, who represents the Lavalas party of ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the Chamber of Deputies.

Four hurricanes and tropical storms pounded Haiti last year, killing some 800 people, devastating crops, washing away bridges and flooding seaside towns.

Bellerive previously served as Preval’s planning and external cooperation minister and has held positions in governments under at least six different prime ministers over the past two decades.

Editing by Tom Brown and Paul Simao

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