Haitian Prime Minister resigns after violent protests over rising gas prices

After days of riots showing backlash to his administration, Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant has resigned. The protesters were responding to his announced measure of rising fuel prices across the nation. Lafontant had only been working for the administration as Prime Minister for a year and a half, and reportedly resigned before a coming non-confidence vote over his position in parliament.

There is still uncertainty about the riots, which involved blocking roads, burning tires and vandalizing shops. They responded to the measures applied in early July, which increased prices for gasoline (by 38%), diesel (by 47%) and kerosene (51%). After the initial riots, Lafontant was quick to state that the rises would be stopped and condemned the violent acts occurring in the streets.

The measures had been approved by the International Monetary Fund with the intentions to access funds for other Haitian projects. However, said procedure usually requires for countries to make economic reforms, and they decided to touch products that are deemed of severe importance by the Haitian people. The administration was reportedly trying to access 96 million dollars in grants and loans, which is why they decided to reform on such a priced product for their country.

Apparently, the now ex-Prime Minister had stopped communications with businesses and opposition groups, declining their calls and refusing to meet with them. They repeatedly accused him and the government of using the double-digit fuel increase for their benefit and that they did not announce any ministers or relevant companies in advance.

Said lack of prior notification caused for them to be unable to prepare for the changes, and their businesses were hit by that sudden change. Haiti, being one of the poorest countries in the world, has an average daily income of 2.41$ for its population. Therefore, the national rage felt after the rise in prices is somewhat understandable, since it concerned products that many citizens constantly use.

The former Prime Minister’s resigning was announced by the country’s president, Jovenel Moïse, on Twitter. There he thanked Lafontant for his services to the nation and stated that he would work hard to find a replacement for him and the government members that left alongside him.

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