Haiti PM resigns after deadly unrest

first_imgDemonstrators march along a street during a protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 14 July 2018. Photo: ReutersEmbattled Haiti prime minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned on Saturday following deadly violence and looting sparked by a now-abandoned plan to raise fuel prices.”I submitted my resignation to the president of the republic,” who has “accepted my resignation,” Lafontant said in the lower house of Haiti’s legislature.Lafontant had faced a potential vote of no confidence had he not resigned — something he had previously insisted he would not do.Last week, the government in the impoverished Caribbean country announced plans for major fuel price hikes — 38 per cent for gasoline, 47 per cent for diesel and 51 per cent for kerosene.The announcement sparked mass protests, with streets in the capital Port-au-Prince and other cities blocked with barricades of debris and burning tires.Dozens of shops were looted and burned and cars were set ablaze. At least four people were killed. The government quickly did an about-face and called off the planned price increases.Lafontant, a physician who had little political experience before taking office in February 2017, had faced widespread criticism even before the spasm of violence.Several hundred protesters marched on Saturday in Port-au-Prince demanding the departure not just of Lafontant, but also of president Jovenel Moise.”It’s not just a question of changing the prime minister, because day by day, the people are still suffering from more misery, unemployment, insecurity, hunger,” said Fleurette Pierre, one of the demonstrators.Haiti is desperately poor: around 60 per cent of its people live on less than two dollars a day, and they are extremely sensitive to even minor increases in prices of just about anything.In February, Haiti signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the Washington-based global crisis lender, in which the country committed to carrying out economic and structural reforms to promote growth.- ‘More gradual approach’ -One of those conditions was the elimination of petroleum product subsidies, prompting the doomed price hike proposal.The accord also called on the government to keep inflation under 10 per cent.Since 2015, inflation has been running at 13 to 14 per cent annually. The budget blueprint submitted to the legislature in late June still foresaw a rate of 13.6 per cent.On Thursday, the IMF suggested “a more gradual approach” to ending fuel subsidies, paired with “compensatory and mitigating measures to protect the most vulnerable people.””We will continue to support Haiti… as they develop a revised reform strategy,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said, noting that ending subsidies would free up funds for other programmes such as education.Crafting a revised strategy — and divvying up Haiti’s meagre budget resources — will be a delicate task.The decision to scrap the price hikes means the government will have to find another way to come up with the $300 million the move would have generated.It is not an insignificant amount — the total is more than 11 per cent of the 2018-2019 budget presented to parliament in June for debate.Now, Moise’s government has to find a way to appease all sides — angry and impatient consumers, politicians with varying interests and IMF economists.Haiti’s deep levels of inequality are often cited by protesters who want both Lafontant and Moise out of office.More than 200 years after gaining independence from France, Haiti is still ranked by the World Bank as having one of earth’s most unjust societies.last_img read more

Modi Gandhi duel in Indian state election

first_imgA voter marks her ballot at a polling booth for India`s Madhya Pradesh state assembly election in Bhopal on 28 November 2018. Millions of Indians began voting on 28 November for a key state election seen as a direct fight between prime minister Narendra Modi and his lead rival ahead of the national vote. Photo: AFPMillions of Indians voted Wednesday in a state election seen as a key duel between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his main rival before the whole country goes to the polls in 2019.Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has governed the central state of Madhya Pradesh, home to 73 million people, since 2003 having won three state elections in a row.But polls suggest that the opposition Congress headed by Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty, could win on the back of concerns about rising unemployment and by appealing to disgruntled farmers.The party, which lost power in Madhya Pradesh in 2003 — and nationally to Modi in 2014 — has campaigned aggressively against three-time chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on issues of corruption and misgovernance.Chouhan, who lead the BJP to a thumping majority in the 2013 elections, has nevertheless sounded confident. Modi himself has addressed no fewer than 10 rallies in the state in a hard-fought campaign.”This is not the toughest election of my career, it’s very comfortable,” Chouhan told reporters after casting his vote.The vote is one of five state elections this month and next that are a litmus test of Modi’s popularity ahead of general elections that have to take place before May but for which no date has been announced yet.Nearly 800,000 voters were also entitled to vote on Wednesday in the remote northeast state of Mizoram, which is governed by Congress. Results from all the state elections are due on 11 December.The BJP is trying hard to maintain its winning momentum after defeating Congress in at least a dozen states since the 2014 national election victory, and has campaigned hard in Madhya Pradesh.An electoral defeat in the state would be a major setback for the party and dent the winning image of Modi, 68.The state, one of India’s poorest and which is highly dependent on agriculture, is also crucial for his rival Gandhi.The 48-year-old is projected as party’s prime ministerial candidate but has so far failed to deliver any impressive electoral wins.last_img

Movie tribute to legendary Uttam Kumar

first_imgTo pay tribute to legendary Bengali actor Uttam Kumar, the government of West Bengal organised a retrospective of his films at Muktadhara Auditorium in the city. This is second such festival featuring his movies within a span of two months.The festival was inaugurated in the presence of Rajesh Kumar, ADG and Officer on Special Duty, government of West Bengal, and other senior officials of the Office of the Resident Commissioner, New Delhi. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The three films screened at the retrospective were Antony Firingee (1967) and Deya Neya (1963), both directed by Sunil Bannerjee and Chowringhee (1968), directed by Pinaki Bhushan Mukherjee. Uttam Kumar — popular matinee idol and the first megastar of Bengali film industry — has left an indelible mark in the history of cinema of Bengal, especially the period which is regarded by critics as its “golden age”. The initiative by the Office of the Resident Commissioner, Government of West Bengal, was an endeavour to bring some of the gems of Kumar’s long and distinguished career to the movie buffs of the capital city. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe West Bengal Information and Cultural Centre, under the Office of the Resident Commissioner, West Bengal, regularly holds special screening of critically acclaimed movies for the connoisseurs of the national capital.On July 24, a one-day retrospective of films of Uttam Kumar was organised which received warm appreciation from the film lovers of Delhi, especially the members of the Bengali community.last_img read more

Flames erupt at building on Lenin Sarani none injured

first_imgKolkata: A major fire broke out at a multi-storied building located on Lenin Sarani near Lotus Crossing on Sunday evening. Six fire tenders doused the fire within a few hours. None got injured or trapped in the incident.According to sources, on Sunday at around 5:30 pm locals saw smoke coming out of a building’s roof located at 171, Lenin Sarani. Immediately, Bowbazar police station and the fire brigade were informed. Initially four fire tenders were pressed into action and later two more were called in. A hydraulic ladder was also sent. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataLocal residents informed that there is a guest house at the said building. On Sunday, fire broke out on a temporary structure and spread to the fourth floor. As the building was evacuated before the fire spread, none was hurt. On the roof a temporary structure had been made, but the purpose of the structure is not clear yet. Some locals stated that it was being used as the kitchen for the guest house, whereas others claimed that an undergarment factory used to run there. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateTo control the blaze, firefighters went to the roofs of other adjacent buildings and started spraying water in ‘zig zag’ method. The hydraulic ladder was used to spray water from Lenin Sarani. While firefighters were dousing the fire, the temporary structure on the roof collapsed. Meanwhile, occupants of the other adjacent buildings got panic stricken and went outside. Also due to thick black smoke, some locals felt uneasy and breathless. At around 7 pm, the fire was controlled. Later, Fire minister Sujit Bose went to the spot and interacted with the fire brigade officials. “Our men are working. Fire has been controlled. Anything more can be said only after inquiry,” said Bose. MLA Nayna Bandyopadhyay also went to the spot. It has been alleged that the temporary construction which was made on the roof of the building, is illegal. But it is yet to be confirmed from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) whether any permission was given to erect such a structure. Sources informed that whether the building owner and the guest house owner had obtained all the necessary permissions from the competent authorities or not will be checked. If any flaw is found, the fire brigade may lodge a complaint against the building owner and the guest house owner.last_img read more