By: Mckenzie Logan, CHI Summer Intern
Haiti’s political stability has been faltering with violence and civil unrest continuing to develop. Opposition groups have displayed their lack of approval of the current events taking place within the government, as they believe that Jovenel Moïse has fulfilled his presidential term but refuses to step down. The dispute comes after the end of his 5 year term this past February, however Moïse stated that he did not take office until 2017– arguing that an interim government occupied the first year as there were delays due to allegations of electoral fraud, thereby extending his presidency until 2022.
While civilians are scared of a looming dictatorship, Moïse is pushing for a constitutional referendum that some say is a power grab. The proposed constitutional changes alter the restrictions around serving terms. Haiti’s current Constitution limits presidents from serving two consecutive terms, but the proposal allows for these to be served consecutively allowing for more time in office. The proposed changes also include the abolition of the Senate and the position of Prime Minister, forming a unicameral legislature and a full presidential system of government. As a result of COIVD-19, the referendum has been postponed until September.
Throughout his presidency, Moïse has been accused of corruption and irresponsible actions. These opposition groups contend that the weak government is the cause of the proliferation of gang related crimes and kidnappings occurring predominately within the capital, Port-au-Prince. The escalation of gang related violence has been deemed to have reached unprecedented levels by the United Nations, suffocating the economy and causing astonishing levels of displacement. Since last June 1st, approximately 13,600 civilians have fled their homes in reaction of rising physical and sexual violence, and the threatening attacks on property. The disorder has interfered with everyday life, furthering the nation’s humanitarian crisis as restricted movement has resulted in the lack of basic necessities and accessibility to reach hospitals – leaving people to die in the streets.
The United Nations continues to fear about Haiti’s deteriorating stability after James Cherizier, a leader of the coalition of gangs, G9, warned he was launching a revolution against the business and political elites. Cherizier is a suspect in various massacres and crimes, however he characterizes himself as a community leader filling in for the weak institution. By placing himself in public eye, the tension continues to gain momentum. As the civil unrest and violence continues alongside the declaration of rebellion, many are uneasy as the degrading government is not equip.