Haiti: Protestors march through Port-au-Prince to demand the removal of President Jovenel Moise

Protestors marched through Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince demanding the removal of President Jovenel Moise amid fears he is amassing too much power in his second year of rule by decree.

Hundreds of people in the capital, Cap-Haitien, Jacmel, Saint-Marc and Gonaives took to the streets in support of the opposition, while dozens of demonstrators clashed with police.

Andre Michel, of the opposition coalition Democratic and Popular Sector, called for Moise’s resignation next month and legislative elections to restart a Parliament which was dissolved last year. 

‘The priority right now is to put in place another economic, social and political system,’ Michel said amid barricades of burning tyres in Haiti. ‘It is clear that Moise is hanging on to power.’    

They claim that Moise’s five-year term, began when former President Michel Martelly’s term expired in February 2016, is now legally ending. 

Moise says his term began when he actually took office in early 2017, an inauguration delayed by a chaotic election process that forced the appointment of a provisional president to serve during a year-long gap.

Haiti’s international backers have echoed opposition concerns and have called for parliamentary elections as soon as possible. 

They were originally scheduled for October 2019 but were delayed by political gridlock and protests that paralysed much of the country, forcing schools, businesses and several government offices to close for weeks at a time.

Some in the international community also condemned several of Moise’s decrees. One of those limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and had accused Moise and other officials of embezzlement and fraud involving a Venezuelan programme which provided cheap oil. Moise and others have rejected those accusations. 

Smoke from a burning barricade rises in the distance as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Smoke from a burning barricade rises in the distance as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Smoke from a burning barricade rises in the distance as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A demonstrator holds a plastic bottle with gasoline while standing in front of a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

A demonstrator holds a plastic bottle with gasoline while standing in front of a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

A demonstrator holds a plastic bottle with gasoline while standing in front of a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Police officers prevent a protester from fueling a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au- Prince

Police officers prevent a protester from fueling a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au- Prince

Police officers prevent a protester from fueling a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au- Prince

Protesters walk past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince to demand his departure from power on February 7, the day they believe to be the last of his term

Protesters walk past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince to demand his departure from power on February 7, the day they believe to be the last of his term

Protesters walk past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince to demand his departure from power on February 7, the day they believe to be the last of his term

Police detain a man during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Police detain a man during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Police detain a man during protests demanding Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Police detain a man during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Police detain a man during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Police detain a man during protests demanding Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Demonstrators set up a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down

Demonstrators set up a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down

Demonstrators set up a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise to step down

A man runs in the street carrying an object as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man runs in the street carrying an object as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man runs in the street carrying an object as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A minibus drives past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A minibus drives past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A minibus drives past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise face police (back) as they demonstrate

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise face police (back) as they demonstrate

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise face police (back) as they demonstrate

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Armed Haitian police ride in a truck as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Armed Haitian police ride in a truck as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Armed Haitian police ride in a truck as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A minibus drives past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A minibus drives past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A minibus drives past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man pours liquid on a barricade of tires as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise protest

A man pours liquid on a barricade of tires as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise protest

A man pours liquid on a barricade of tires as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise protest

Protesters stand in front of police as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Protesters stand in front of police as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Protesters stand in front of police as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A person drags items into the street near burning barricades as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A person drags items into the street near burning barricades as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A person drags items into the street near burning barricades as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A woman holding a child hurries past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15 in Port-au-Prince to demand his departure from power on February 7, the day they believe to be the last of his term

A woman holding a child hurries past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15 in Port-au-Prince to demand his departure from power on February 7, the day they believe to be the last of his term

A woman holding a child hurries past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15 in Port-au-Prince to demand his departure from power on February 7, the day they believe to be the last of his term

A man sets fire to a barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man sets fire to a barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man sets fire to a barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate on January 15, 2021 in Port-au-Prince

Haiti's President Jovenel Moise speaks during an interview at his home in Petion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince

Haiti's President Jovenel Moise speaks during an interview at his home in Petion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise speaks during an interview at his home in Petion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince

Moise also decreed that acts such as robbery, arson and blocking public roads – a common ploy during protests – would be classed as terrorism and subject to heavy penalties. He also created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.

The Core Group, which includes officials from the United Nations, U.S., Canada and France, questioned those moves.

‘The decree creating the National Intelligence Agency gives the agents of this institution quasi-immunity, thus opening up the possibility of abuse,’ the group said in a recent statement. ‘These two presidential decrees, issued in areas that fall within the competence of a Parliament, do not seem to conform to certain fundamental principles of democracy, the rule of law, and the civil and political rights of citizens.’

Moise has dismissed such concerns and vowed to move forward at his own pace.

In a New Year’s tweet, he called 2021 ‘a very important year for the future of the country.’ He has called for a constitutional referendum in April followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in September, with runoffs scheduled for November.

‘There is no doubt elections will happen,’ Foreign Minister Claude Joseph told the Associated Press, rejecting calls that Moise step down in February. ‘Haiti cannot afford another transition. We need to let democracy work the way it should.’

Joseph said Moise remains open to dialogue and is ready to meet anytime with opposition leaders to solve the political stalemate.

He also said the constitutional referendum won’t give Moise more power but said changes are needed to the 1987 document.

‘It is a source of instability. It does not have checks and balances. It gives extraordinary power to the Parliament that abuses this power over and over,’ Joseph said. ‘It’s not the president’s own personal project. It’s a national project.’

While officials haven’t released details of the referendum, one of the members of the consulting committee, Louis Naud Pierre, told radio station Magik9 last week that proposals include creating a unicameral Parliament to replace the current Senate and Chamber of Deputies, extending parliamentary terms and giving Haitians who live abroad more power.

The referendum and flurry of decrees are frustrating many Haitians, including Rose-Ducast Dupont, a mother of three who sells perfumes on the sidewalks of Delmas, a neighborhood in the capital. 

Firefighters walk among white smoke after extinguishing a burning barricade made out of tyres, during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Firefighters walk among white smoke after extinguishing a burning barricade made out of tyres, during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

Firefighters walk among white smoke after extinguishing a burning barricade made out of tyres, during protests demanding Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

A man with two children run past a burning barricade during protests demanding President Jovenel Moise to step down

A man with two children run past a burning barricade during protests demanding President Jovenel Moise to step down

A man with two children run past a burning barricade during protests demanding President Jovenel Moise to step down

People run past a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down

People run past a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down

People run past a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise to step down

People run past a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise

People run past a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise

People run past a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise

A protester kneels in front of a burning barricade with a copy of the Haitian Constitution during a demonstration

A protester kneels in front of a burning barricade with a copy of the Haitian Constitution during a demonstration

A protester kneels in front of a burning barricade with a copy of the Haitian Constitution during a demonstration

Protesters throw wheels onto a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Jovenel Moise

Protesters throw wheels onto a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Jovenel Moise

Protesters throw wheels onto a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Jovenel Moise

People run past a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

People run past a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

People run past a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Protesters gesture in front of police as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Protesters gesture in front of police as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Protesters gesture in front of police as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man and child ride past on a motorbike as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man and child ride past on a motorbike as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man and child ride past on a motorbike as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man carries wood in a street as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man carries wood in a street as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man carries wood in a street as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A demonstrator wears a shirt reading "Everyone's life matters" while standing in front of a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

A demonstrator wears a shirt reading "Everyone's life matters" while standing in front of a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti's President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

A demonstrator wears a shirt reading ‘Everyone’s life matters’ while standing in front of a burning barricade during protests demanding Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise to step down, in Port-au-Prince

A man and child drive past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man and child drive past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man and child drive past a burning barricade as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

Police try to put out a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise

Police try to put out a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise

Police try to put out a burning barricade during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise

A man carries a child past burning barricades as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man carries a child past burning barricades as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

A man carries a child past burning barricades as opponents of Haitian President Jovenel Moise demonstrate

‘The political problems in my country have been dragging on for too long,’ she said. ‘They are never able to find a solution for the nation. … We are the ones suffering.’

The nation of more than 11 million people has grown increasingly unstable under Moise, who received more than 50 per cent of the vote but with only 21 per cent voter turnout.

Haiti is still trying to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck in 2016. Its economic, political and social woes have deepened, with gang violence resurging, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming more scarce at times in a country where 60 per cent of the population makes less than $2 a day.

‘I don’t have a life,’ said Jean-Marc Francois, who wants Moise gone. ‘I don’t have any savings. I have three kids. I have to survive day by day with no guarantee that I’ll come home with bread to put on the table.’

Some days he works in construction; others he does yardwork or disposes of garbage or moves boxes at warehouses, which sometimes pays 500 gourdes ($7) a day.

Francois said he won’t take part in the ‘circus act’ of voting in the referendum or elections.

‘We’re talking about voting for a new president? A new constitution? Deputies and senators? They’re all going to be the same,’ he said. ‘This is a country of corruption.’

Moise has faced numerous calls for resignation since taking office, with protests roiling Haiti since late 2017. The demonstrations have been fueled largely by demands for better living conditions and anger over crime, corruption allegations and price increases after the government ended fuel subsidies.

The most violent protests occurred in 2019, with dozens killed, and some worry about even more violence as the opposition steps up its demands that Moise resign amid fears that elections will be delayed once more.

‘Can the current status quo continue for another year?’ said Jake Johnston, senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. ‘Moise can announce an electoral calendar … but what signs are there that that’s going to actually happen?’ 

Link hienalouca.com

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