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U.S. Senator Rubio visits Haiti amid political crisis there

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio met on Wednesday with the Haitian president and members of parliament and discussed the formation of a new Cabinet following the ouster this week of Jean Henry Ceant as prime minister.

The Florida Republican lawmaker arrived in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, following crippling nationwide protests and a political crisis touched off by the dismissal of Ceant in a vote of no confidence by the country’s legislative body on Monday.

Haiti has had several prime ministers in recent years. President Jovenel Moise remains in office.

Rubio wrote on his Twitter account that he discussed the formation of a new government in his meeting with Gary Bodeau, head of the lower house, and Carl Cantave, president of the Senate.

Ceant took office in September as thousands of demonstrators were streaming through the streets in the main cities of the impoverished island nation.

In renewed protests since Feb. 7, many called for Moise to step down because of ballooning inflation, a weakening currency and allegations of misused funds from a Venezuelan oil subsidy scheme called PetroCaribe.

Ceant, who has likewise been blamed for the rampant inflation and protests, has insisted his dismissal on Monday was unconstitutional and that he is still the head of government.

Moise said on Twitter that he spoke with Rubio about security and holding parliamentary elections.

Rubio heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues.

His visit comes days before Moise and four other Caribbean leaders attend a meeting on Friday with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida to discuss the political crisis in Venezuela and China’s commercial expansion.

Reporting by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez; Editing by Delphine Schrank and Peter Cooney

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