Haiti swears a new government

Haiti on May 14 commemorated the end of the first year in office of President Michel Martelly by ushering in a new government.

Lawmakers in the Lower Chamber of Deputies voted 70 to six, with three abstentions, in favor of new Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s political program.

“This vote is historic,” said Lamothe, urging legislators to join him in helping to transform the impoverished, French-speaking Caribbean country.

Lamothe also stressed investments in social programs, stating that it is time to lift Haiti’s 10 million nationals “out of misery, out of hunger.”

The May 14 vote was the final step in the four-vote ratification process, ending nearly three months of a political turmoil created with the resignation of former Prime Minister Garry Conille after only four months in office.

Lamothe is Martelly’s fourth nominee for prime minister and only the second to be ratified by Haiti’s parliament.

Martelly commemorated the end of his first year in office by relighting the “eternal flame” of the monument of the “Unknown Slave” in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, and laying a wreath at the feet of the bronze statue.

The statue, directly across from the National Palace, was commissioned by former President Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, symbolizing Haiti’s slave revolt.

Martelly said the flame, like the statue, symbolizes the rebirth of Haiti.

But former soldiers on Monday called on Martelly to honor promises to reinstate the earthquake-ravaged disbanded army.

“We are ready to fight,” Jean Fednel Lafalaise, who spent 10 years on active duty in Haiti’s armed forces, told reporters.

“We are in a battle for a normal cause. We are battling for a noble cause, a constitutional cause, a cause that is legal,” he added.

Lafalaise said the former soldiers were prepared to take to the streets on May 18, Haitian Flag Day.

He said they want a meeting with new minister of defense, former Senate President Rodolphe Joazile.

But Joazile has said he will not meet with the former soldiers until all of the military bases are evacuated.

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