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Hell in Haiti?

Report by Ytharth

Haiti President Jovenel Moise was shot dead at his home this Wednesday. The act was described as inhumane and barbaric by interim Prime Minister Claude Joesph. Moise’s wife was also wounded and is receiving medical care currently. The authorities have still not identified the attackers.

The attack came in mid of rising wave of politically linked violence in the impoverished Caribbean nation. With Haiti politically divided and facing humanitarian crises and shortage of food, there are fears of widespread disorder. Gunshots could be heard throughout Port au Prince. The capital had been suffering increasing violence as the gangs are fighting with each other and the police for control of the streets. The violence is fuelled due to the increase in poverty and political instability. President Moise faced fierce protest since he took off his predecessor in 2017. The opposition accused him of seeking dictatorship by overstaying his mandate. There have been series of anti-government protests along with a ‘failed coup’.

The chaos began when the opposition party disputed the mandate of President Jovenel Moise. According to them, the Presidents’ term should have been ended by February 7, 2021. However, President and his supporters stated that his term would expire in 2022. When Moise refused to leave the presidency in February, the situation began to worsen. Protests took place to challenge President’s refusal to leave the office. In the process, many journalists were injured while covering the rallies and dozens of people were arrested.

President Moise first won the elections in October 2015 but it was spoiled by the presidential runoff and voter fraud. Another election took place in November 2016 that was won by Moise, who officially took office on February 7, 2017. According to Aljazeera, Article 134-2 of the Haitian Constitution states that “if the vote does not take place before February 7, the elected president can take off immediately after the vote is confirmed and his mandate is expected to begin on February 7 in the year of the election”. The then Foreign Minister, Claude Joseph clarified the fact that the president is supposed to begin and end his or her tenure on February 7. Since Moise took office in 2017, he would be leaving on February 7, 2022. He further stated that the opposition was trying to violently and illegally force Moise to step down instead of waiting for their turn.

The political tug of war has paralyzed the education and businesses of the country. Police have also cracked down on rallies, protestors, and supporters. There is also a rise in widespread gang violence. The streets are filled with pro-government and pro-opposition armed groups, who have taken the law into their hands. The UN also requested the Haitian government to demobilize the gangs and end the impunity of the gang leaders such as Jimmy Cherizier, who was also sanctioned by the US.

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