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Musings From Abroad

Haiti Prime Minister quits and what IMF has to do with it

The embattled prime minister of Haiti, Jack Guy Lafontant, has announced his resignation following days of violent protests sparked by a now-abandoned plan to raise fuel prices



The embattled prime minister of Haiti, Jack Guy Lafontant, has announced his resignation following days of violent protests sparked by a now-abandoned plan to raise fuel prices.

The decision comes on the heels of attempts by Lafontant to implement an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in which Haiti had signed an agreement committing to carrying out economic and structural reforms to promote growth.

“I submitted my resignation to the president of the republic”, who has “accepted my resignation”, Lafontant said on Saturday in the lower house of Haiti’s legislature.

Lafontant had faced a potential vote of no confidence had he not stepped down.

The unrest started after the government unveiled an IMF-inspired proposal to eliminate fuel subsidies which in turn would have hiked fuel prices: 38 percent for gasoline, 47 percent for diesel and 51 percent for kerosene.

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The announcement sparked mass protests, with streets in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other cities blocked with barricades of debris and burning tires.

At least seven people were killed and dozens of businesses looted or destroyed during three days of demonstrations.

Lafontant, who took office in February 2017, later announced the plan would not go ahead, but protesters still demanded his resignation.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Port-au-Prince, said the parliament had been debating whether to give or not Lafontant a vote of confidence for more than three hours.

Following the prime minister’s resignation, Haiti was essentially left with no functioning government, added our correspondent.

Around 60 percent of Haiti’s population lives on less than $2 a day and are extremely vulnerable to increases in the price of goods and services.

Musings From Abroad

US Vice President, Kamala Harris vows increased investment in Africa. Should China worry?



As part of development from her latest visit to Africa, the United States, Vice President Kamala Harris has announced that her country will increase investment in Africa and help spur economic growth.

Harris made the promise on Sunday that the United States as she aimed at offering a counter to the influence of rival China.

Harris said shortly after touching down in Ghana, the first destination in a trip that will include visits to Tanzania and Zambia that her visit was motivated by the US’s latest push to re-establish and deepen relations with Africa.

“On this trip, I intend to do work that is focused on increasing investments here on the continent and facilitating economic growth and opportunity,” Harris said.

In recent decades, China has invested heavily in Africa, including infrastructure and resource development, while Russian influence has increased as well, including the deployment of Wagner Group troops to assist governments in several countries.

The US is strengthening relations, in 2022 President Biden announced at US-Africa Business Forum, announced over $15 billion in two-way trade and investment commitments, deals, and partnerships that advance key priorities.

Uncle Sam later committed $55 billion over the next three years to Africa ahead of a U.S.-Africa summit in December. On a visit to Niger this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $150 million in new humanitarian aid for Africa’s Sahel region.

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Musings From Abroad

Italian PM fears delay in Tunisia’s aid fund might trigger migrants crisis in Europe



Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni warned that Europe risks seeing a huge wave of migrants arriving on its shores from North Africa if financial stability in Tunisia is not safeguarded.

United Nations data, at least 12,000 of those who have reached Italy this year set sail from Tunisia, against 1,300 in the same period of 2022.

Meloni told reporters following a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels, “maybe not everyone is aware of the need to preserve the financial stability in a country which has severe financial problems.”

“If we do not adequately address those problems we risk unleashing an unprecedented wave of migration.”

President Saed’s reign has gained wild criticism from local and international entities. Earlier in the week, Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani remarked on Sunday the IMF, the United States, and other international caution to stop bailout talks demanding Tunisia’s far-reaching reforms.

Tajani said Italy is worried that International Monetary Fund’s block on a $1.9 billion loan to Tunisia might lead to a new wave of migrants toward Europe. He also proposed to fellow EU foreign ministers on Monday to split the bailout funds into installments, with a first payment freed up immediately and later ones linked to progress on reforms.

Also, United States Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf on Friday claimed that the president’s style of leadership has caused “enormous concern” over the country.

Since replacing the government of Hichem Mechichi in 2021, President Saed has also moved to rule by decree before writing a new constitution that he passed last year. He has sacked the government, suspended parliament, and seized a string of powers.

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