Unrest in Haiti over Presidential Term

Tens of thousands of people gathered in the streets of Haiti’s capital Port-au prince, as well as other cities surrounding the capital, in protest against the government. Opposition supporters have been protesting the legitimacy of President Jovenel Moïse since the summer of 2018, however, he has now come under scrutiny for breaking the country’s constitution.

According to Haiti’s constitution, President Moïse’s 5-year term should have ended on 7th February 2021, however, Mr. Moïse has refused to step down which has led to civil unrest. The President has refused to step aside on the grounds that he believes he did not come into office until 7 February 2017; therefore, he is insisting that he still has another year left on his term. Although the President has insisted that he will leave office in 2022, many of his opposition supporters fear that he will redraft the constitution before then to ensure that he can remain in office for longer.

The protests began on 14th February, with Protesters carrying copies of the 1987 constitution as they marched through the capital. However, it did not take long before tensions started to escalate, and violence broke out. The police responded to these protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets which has led to multiple injuries. The protesters barricaded streets, scattered bricks and burned tyres throughout the capital city. On 7th February 2021, Haitian police arrested several members of the opposition party as the President claimed that they were attempting to “overthrow his government.”. The Haitian government also claimed that these protests were an “attack on freedom and democracy.”

The opposition has stated that there will be more anti-government demonstrations although there have been signs of protest fatigue among their supporters.

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Matthew Musindi

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May 2022
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