February 23, 2017 / 6:39 PM / 7 months ago

Haiti president taps doctor to be prime minister

Haitian President Jovenel Moise speaks during a news conference at Toussaint Louverture International airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - A relatively unknown medical doctor was tapped to be Haiti’s new prime minister, tasked with steering the government’s legislative agenda through parliament, President Jovenel Moise said late on Wednesday.

The choice of Jack Guy Lafontant as prime minister of the impoverished Caribbean country came two weeks after Moise took power as president.

If parliament confirms Lafontant, perhaps best known as the president of the Rotary Club in the upscale district of Petionville, and allows him to choose other ministers, it would mark the country’s first elected government in a year.

Moise announced the surprise pick on Twitter and noted that he had consulted with the heads of both chambers of parliament on the selection. Moise did not indicate why he had chosen Lafontant. The two men are believed to be friends, according to local media.

Haiti has been headed by a caretaker government since Michel Martelly, the last elected president and Moise’s political benefactor, stepped down early last year without a designated successor.

Moise was also a relative unknown until he was tapped by Martelly to run as his successor.

His Bald Heads Party and its allies control the majority in parliament.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Andrew Hay

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