Haiti Political CrisisFebruary 18, 2021 in Uncategorized
Haiti has been at the centre of a major political crisi this month, which has caused ongoing mass demonstrations all over the country and a supposed attempted coup. This has all routed from Haiti’s President, Jovenel Moïse, who had been frequently criticised for his administration allowing for the increase of violence and kidnappings as well as a deepening level of poverty in the country. His presidency has often been challenged with violent protests and has been ruling by decree since 2019 after his administration failed to hold scheduled legislative elections. With the rise of tensions continuing, it is unlikely that any demonstrations will be decreasing but with the President’s international support and hold of the armed forces, it will be very difficult for him to be forced to step down.
The opposition, which is made up of political parties that are against the President feature members of the judiciary, religious and civil society groups. They had claimed that Moïse’s 5-year term had ended in February 2021. The President insisted however that he had one more year to go as he did not enter office until February 2017 due to a new vote as a yearlong delay existed from the 2015 election and its allegations of election fraud. The opposition had planned to replace President Moïse with a new head of state on the 7th of February. They have previously accused President Moïse of having a weak response to the economic crisis, which had stemmed from natural disasters in 2018, causing food and housing shortages. The economic effects of COVID 19 also aided in the economic crisis making it difficult for the population’s businesses to continue. The opposition had chosen Joseph Mécène Jean-Louis, to be interim leader. President Moïse reacted to the opposition by saying that he will not step down until February next year and that the move was an illegal usurpation. The general election according to President Moïse is scheduled for September 2021.
President Moïse had, in order to continue his relevancy in office and support, announced major changes to the country’s constitution on the 2nd of February, allowing for members of the nation’s diaspora to run for presidency, of which he believed required modernisations to it. A constitutional referendum was planned for April 2021, but unions had been demanding for President Moïse to resign.
Upon the rising tensions in the country, mass protests had occurred on the 8th of February onwards. Thousands of people marched through the streets of Port-au-Prince as well as other cities across the country. At least 23 people have been arrested, including a senior police officer and the top judge Ivickel Dabresil. Tear gas was fired from the police due to clashes with protestors. Some demonstrators were reportedly injured as well due to rubber bullets fired by police. The commander of the armed forces has so far sided with the president.
A coup attempt had been foiled in Haiti after the president claimed an attempt to kill him was made on the 8thof February. The opposition had dismissed the suggestion of a coup attempt, and that President Moïse should have stepped down on the 7th of February.
The United States has stated that they are “deeply concerned” with Haiti and that they support Moïse in his Presidency. Likewise, the United Nations and the Organisation of American States have all indicated that they want President Moïse to continue governing as long as he carries on holding fair elections. They believe that is the best strategy to avoid future conflicts. Many of the protesters and some Haitian media commentators have condemned the international support of President Moïse, describing it as an “interference”.
As protests and tensions continue, it has become increasingly likely that the demonstrations and frustrations felt by the general population will continue. With the opposition refusing to stand down on its stance and a promise of more anti-government demonstrations, it could be seen that they will then carry on having an aggressive stance and wanting a change in leadership in the country. Despite the international viewpoint, it is unlikely that any form of calm will return to the streets of Haiti without a form of successful change in leadership in the country or a form of appeasement to those protesting.
Within the next 6 months, up until the President’s plan for an official election, it is likely for aggression and frustrations around Moïse’s presidency are to continue. While it is unlikely that he will step down. International support for the President as well as the secure hold he still has upon the armed forces and the police should allow him for a hold on his presidency. Despite this, it is going to make his remaining time within Government very difficult and he may find it hard to make the constitutional reforms he desires to complete in time.