Haiti lawmakers ratify 2nd female prime minister

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian lawmakers ratified Michele Pierre-Louis to be the impoverished country's prime minister on Thursday, ending more than three months of political bickering and deadlock in Parliament.

Haiti's Senate ratified Michele Pierre-Louis to be the country's No. 2 leader by a 12-0 vote, making her the second woman to become prime minister of Haiti. There were five abstentions.

The decision ends a stalemate that has left the Caribbean country unable to sign foreign aid deals, arrange an international donors' conference or hold overdue elections for a third of the nation's Senate.

The deadlock began when senators dismissed former Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis on April 12 after a week of riots over soaring food prices left at least seven people dead and destroyed hundreds of businesses.

Lawmakers rejected President Rene Preval's first two nominees and repeatedly delayed votes on Pierre-Louis as they jockeyed for party position in the next Cabinet.

Pierre-Louis, 61, is an educator who heads a branch of billionaire George Soros' Open Society Institute. She was ratified by the Chamber of Deputies on July 17.

But though the victories in both houses mean she will now be addressed as "Madam Prime Minister," her trials in Parliament will continue.

She must now return for another vote in both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies to win approval for a government program and proposed cabinet. For that she will need 16 of the 18 votes in the current Senate, four more than she received Thursday.