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Haitian Lawmakers Confirm Lafontant as Prime Minister

FILE - Haiti's Jack Guy Lafontant has been approved as the country's next prime minister. He's shown at the national palace in Port-au-Prince.

Haiti’s lower house of parliament confirmed Jack Guy Lafontant as prime minister Tuesday morning after more than 18 straight hours of deliberations.

Lafontant won the backing of house members by a vote of 95-6, with two members abstaining. He had been approved by the Senate last Thursday after its own 17-hour marathon session.

When the house hearing opened at 2 p.m. local time Monday, some demonstrators protested that Lafontant had underpaid the property tax on his home and was delinquent on his income taxes until his designation by President Jovenel Moïse in February.

Sinal Bertrand, who cast one of the six "no" votes, accused his colleagues of selling out their consciences because, he said, Lafontant did not meet his civic obligations.

But one of Lafontant’s supporters, Gary Bodeau, called the confirmation "a victory" for the country because it needed a functioning government. However, Bodeau warned that Lafontant does not have "a blank check."

Like Moïse, a banana exporter, the 55-year-old Lafontant, a gastroenterologist, has not held public office previously. The men are close friends, according to the Miami Herald, which reported that Lafontant has headed the Democratic Movement of Haiti-Democratic Rally of Haiti, a small political party. Moise belongs to the ruling Bald Heads Party (PHTK).

Lafontant was scheduled to be sworn in this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday.