February 22, 2017 10:32 PM
An obscure physician who heads the Petionville Rotary Club has been designated as Haiti’s next prime minister by President Jovenel Moïse.
Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant, a gastroenterologist and member of the American College of Physicians, confirmed to the Miami Herald that he had been tapped and was “awaiting official confirmation.” Cholzer Chancy, the president of the Lower Chamber of Deputies, also confirmed he had been informed by Moïse that his choice was Lafontant.
The choice of Lafontant comes as a surprise, and after an hours-long meeting Wednesday between Moïse and about 40 lawmakers at the presidential palace. Moïse had hoped to find a consensus for his No. 2, and at one point offered up the name of insurance company owner Olivier Barrau. Barrau, however, was rejected by lawmakers, sources say.
While Barrau’s name had been circulating for weeks as potential prime minister, along with that of Chancy, Lafontant’s had not. A member of the American College of Gastroenterology and the Haitian Medical Association, Lafontant is a close friend and staunch supporter of Moïse from the onset of his presidential bid. He is, however, not well-known in Haiti’s political circles.
That could pose a challenge for him as he goes before parliament with his government for a vote on his political program. Several lawmakers said they do not yet know what his chances of getting through parliament are. Moïse, who was sworn in on Feb. 7, has promised to personally handle the negotiations for Lafontant’s confirmation.