Haiti elections postponed indefinitely amid political crisis

Haiti’s prime minister dismisses electoral administration members, again casting the vote’s timeline into uncertainty.

Presidential and legislative elections originally set for 2019 have again been postponed [File: Ricardo Arduengo/The Associated Press]

Haiti’s elections and a constitutional referendum, scheduled for the coming months, have been postponed indefinitely after the dismissal of the electoral administration, plunging the country into further uncertainty.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was appointed by late President Jovenel Moise two days before being assassinated, published a decree on Monday announcing the members of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had been dismissed.

On Tuesday, Henry told CNN the process to replace the council had begun and elections would take place after a constitutional review in the “first months of the coming year”.

“We want to move as quickly as possible to the restoration of democracy through elections,” he said, adding that the members of the current council were dismissed because they “cannot organise elections”.

After developing several electoral calendars, the CEP had set the first round of voting in presidential and legislative elections, as well as for a constitutional referendum, for November 7.

The second round of voting was scheduled for January 23, 2022, in conjunction with municipal and local elections.

Since their September 2020 appointment by Moise, who was assassinated in July, the nine members of the CEP have been strongly criticised by the opposition and the public.

Moise, who was gunned down in his home, had been ruling by decree after the 2019 legislative elections were postponed, and disputes arose over whether his term should end in February 2021 or 2022.

His slaying shook a country already battling poverty, spiralling gang violence and COVID-19.

A magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck Haiti in August, further destabilising the island nation.

The elections and referendum had already been postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Haiti’s parliament has been devoid of members since January 2020, and only 10 of the 30 senators are still in office, with their terms ending in January 2023.

The absence of any electoral agenda has weakened Haiti’s political class, at a time when the country is facing a major humanitarian and security crisis.

Henry, meanwhile, has been accused of further casting the country into uncertainty after firing a chief public prosecutor who had called for him to be charged in connection with Moise’s killing.

Henry then replaced the country’s justice minister.

The situation prompted the secretary-general of Haiti’s Council of Ministers to resign. Henry has denied trying to impede the investigation.

Meanwhile, according to the International Organization for Migration, nearly 3,500 Haitians who were trying to enter the US have been deported back to the island in the last 10 days by the US migration service.

The unprecedented mass deportations came after tens of thousands of migrants, mostly Haitian, gathered under a bridge at the Mexico-Texas border, hoping to be granted entry to the US.

Source: AFP