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Haiti Politics

Presidential, legislative and local elections were scheduled for September 2021. Pro-government and pro-opposition armed groups had instilled fear in neighborhoods in which they exercise control, the Fondation Je Klere civil society group wrote in a June 2020 report. In popular neighbourhoods, elections are never really free, the report reads. In this context, where nearly a third of the national territory is controlled by gangs, their political weight over the next election is clear.

Widespread violence and growing criminality by armed gangs in Haiti is bolstered by a judiciary that does not prosecute those responsible for attacks on civilians. These gangs, with the support of some Haitian politicians, repress political dissent in Port-au-Prince neighborhoods known to participate in anti-government demonstrations. In exchange for executing attacks designed to create instability and silence the Port-au-Prince populations demands for improved living conditions, gangs receive money, political protection, and enough firearms to reportedly make them better armed than the Haitian National Police (HNP).

Haiti is a constitutional republic with a multiparty political system. Voters elected Jovenel Moise as president for a five-year term in national elections held in November 2016, and he took office in February 2017. The most recent national legislative elections were held in 2016; international observers considered the elections free and fair. Moise won his controversial largely-boycotted 2016 election with about 12% of Haitis 6.2 million electorate. Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant departed office in March 2019 after a vote of no confidence in the lower house of parliament. Legislative elections planned for October 2019 did not take place.

The Moise government's plan is to hold a referendum on a new constitution in April 2021, followed by legislative and presidential elections in September. But the Provisional Electoral Council (KEP) named by the president faces criticism for not being representative of civil society, and the opposition vows to boycott any elections organized by it. The opposition claims that article 134-2 of Haiti's amended constitution states that the president's term will end on Feb. 7, 2021.

Article 134-2 of Haitis 1987 Constitution sets the presidential inaugural date as Feb. 7 every five years, but, if delayed, the President-elect takes office immediately after the validation of the ballot and his term of office is deemed to have started on Feb. 7 of the year of the election. Elected on Nov. 20, 2016 and inaugurated on Feb. 7, 2017, Mose therefore should step down on Feb. 7, 2021. Mose and his supporters cite Article 134, Paragraph 1 of Haitis controversially-ratified and not-widely-accepted 2012 Amended Constitution: The elected President takes office on Feb. 7 following the date of his or her election.

Provisional Electoral Committee (CEP) President Guylande Mesadieu on on 08 January 2021 announced the dates for a constitutional referendum and general elections to take place in Haiti this year. The referendum on the Constitution is scheduled for April 25, while the first round of presidential and legislative elections will be held on September 19. Subnational elections will be also held on November 21. "I want to reaffirm that all votes will be counted. We will be able to carry out our mission in an independent manner while maintaining credibility and transparency in a democratic dynamic," Mesadieu said.

Traditional and opposition parties have insisted on Moise's replacement by a three-year transitional government while highlighting that his term in office ends on February 7, 2021, and not in February 2022 as he proclaims. The opposition also rejected the appointment of CEP representatives, claiming it was approved without a political agreement and they were members of the ruling party. Since January 2020, Moise had been governing by presidential decree as the mandates of lawmakers and senators expired without the occurrence of legislative elections.

Opposition politicians on 24 January 2021 rejected the announcement by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Committee (CEP) regarding the holding of a Constitutional referendum and general elections to take place this year. Haiti in Action party (HA) Coordinator and former Senator Youri Latortue described the electoral process as "unserious" and "absurd" while reiterating the calls on President Jovenel Moise to resign. "The 50th legislature came to an end in January 2020. The elections were due to take place in October 2020 and a new president must be elected on February 7, 2021," Latortue recalled.

People in the Struggle Organization party (PSO) and the Democratic and Popular Sector (DPS) described the CEP's attempts to establish new political personnel as a comedy while announcing general strikes. Opposition parties considered invalid the referendum as the 1987 Constitution prohibits its modification through popular consultation. They also advocate for a transitional government for a period of three years to later organize general elections.

Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY-05), incoming Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Albio Sires (NJ-08), Chair of the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security and Trade Subcommittee, released a statement 22 December 2020 on recent developments in Haiti. 'Haitian President Jovenel Mose is pursuing an increasingly authoritarian course of action, issuing a series of recent decrees that include creating an extra-constitutional domestic intelligence force. His latest actions are reminiscent of past anti-democratic abuses the Haitian people have endured, including the run-up to the Duvalier dictatorship. We will not stand idly by while Haiti devolves into chaos.'

On 21 January 2021, the protests reached the U.S. Embassy, which has supported Moise's government. The demonstrators also denounced a critical lack of food, fuel, and widespread corruption within the government. Haitian unions such as the National Union of Haitian Workers and the Lawyers' Collective for the Defense of Human Rights called for a general strike on February 1 and 2, 2021 to demonstrate against widespread violence. Several demonstrators created the movement Collective of Haitian Trade Unions for Respect of the 1987 Constitution, which demands compensation from the government to the families of the victims of the nationwide violence wave.

Officials loyal to Moise claimed 07 February 2021 they had foiled an attempt to murder him and overthrow the government in a coup. Police arrested 23 people, including Haitian Supreme Court judge Yvickel Dieujuste Dabresil, accusing them of an attempted coup. The Haitian opposition on 08 February 2021 escalated a constitutional crisis by naming a magistrate as an interim leader for the troubled Caribbean country amid a dispute over when the term of President Jovenel Moise ends. Political tension was exacerbated on Sunday when Moise alleged there had been an attempt to overthrow the government and 23 people were arrested, including a Supreme Court judge and a senior police official. The opposition dismissed the suggestion of a coup attempt, and said Moise should have stepped down on Feb. 7 when it says his five-year term ended.

Magistrate Joseph Mecene Jean Louis, 72, said in a video message that he had been chosen by the opposition to replace Moise, who the opposition accuses of being authoritarian and presiding over a crippling economic crisis. "I declare to accept the choice of the opposition and the civil society to be able to serve my country as the provisional president," Jean Louis said.

Moise, who had ruled by decree since January last year, had stated he would hand over power to the winner of the September 2021 presidential election but would not step down until his term expires. Moise vowed to stay in power until February 2022, pointing out that an interim administration had governed for a year after he was elected in a disputed poll that was canceled by the electoral council. Washington agreed with the Organization of American States that a new president should succeed Moise when his term ends on February 7, 2022.

Haiti's interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who had run the country following the assassination of president Jovenel Moise, will step down and a new government will be formed with Ariel Henry as prime minister, an official said 19July 2021. The new government will not have a president, and will be tasked with organising fresh elections "as soon as possible," said the government official, who is close to the prime minister's office.

Moise had tapped Henry to replace Joseph as prime minister in the days before the president was shot dead in his home in Port-au-Prince in the early hours of July 7. But in the hours after the assassination Joseph declared a "state of siege" and said he was in charge, launching a power tussle in the violence-wracked, impoverished Caribbean nation. Haiti also had no working parliament and no workable succession process, and was already mired deep in a political and security crisis when Moise was killed.

Leading Haitian human rights advocate Pierre Esperance on 09 July 2021 urged Biden to take a different approach to the country than his predecessors. In such a violent, lawless environment where no credible state institutions function a situation which Moise cultivated and which ultimately cost him his life how could opposition candidates campaign safely? How could people turn up to vote and know they will get home alive? How could people trust in the results?

U.S. Haiti policy is at a crossroads, Democratic Congressman Andy Levin tweeted. Will we back an empty form of democracy, demanding elections ASAP even if they arent free/fair to focus on choosing among illegitimate pretenders to power? Or will we back Haitian civil society as they do the work to restore real democracy?

Peter Mulrean, who served as US ambassador to Haiti from 2015 to 2017, also wrote in another Just Security column that forcing Haitian elections to take place this year would be a mistake. Mulrean said The degradation of Haitis democracy is now at a critical point, perhaps the point of no return. It is tempting to think that new elections will clarify the situation and restore stability, but experience teaches us just the opposite. What Haiti needs is to take stock of what is broken and fix it. That is what a broad coalition of opposition parties and civil society is calling for.

The United Statess top diplomat has urged Haitian political leaders to work towards holding elections later this year, a demand top civil society activists in Haiti and other experts have pushed back against as a mistake amid deep political instability. Speaking to reporters on 19 July 2021, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Haitian leaders to bring the country together around a more inclusive, peaceful and secure vision and pave the road toward free and fair elections this year.

Haiti will hold presidential elections last scheduled for September on 07 November, officials said 12 Ausgut 2021, with the assassination of president Jovenel Moise still shrouded in mystery. The provisional electoral council said polling day will include the first round of the presidential election, legislative elections that should have been held in 2019, and a constitutional referendum that Moise supported. According to the new electoral calendar, the second round of presidential and legislative elections will be on January 23, 2022 at the same time as municipal and local elections, which have also been delayed for years.

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Page last modified: 14-09-2021 17:10:16 ZULU