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CARICOM pressured to intervene, as Haiti’s political chaos deepens

A group of experts with the 15 members of the Caribbean Community has concluded that Haiti’s ongoing political crisis has to be resolved and a dialogue held between its political rivals for the presidential and executive elections scheduled this year to be a success. As Haiti’s political and constitutional impasse worsens and criticism of international institutions mounts, there is the urge for the Caribbean Community regional bloc, commonly known as CARICOM, to intervene in the situation and become the mediator.

CARICOM stepping into the fray would mean being present on the ground as it had closed its office in Haiti in 2013.  It would also have to ask for assistance from some major nations and international organizations in Haiti that form what is referred to as “Core Group” and be aware of the “complex, volatile and slippery condition of the political terrain of Haiti.”

And as the CARICOM did in 2014 when the officials held a dialogue with then-president Jean Bertrand Aristide in Jamaica in the middle of an intense political crisis in Haiti and opposition to his ruling, they will be required to be ready to sit down with President Jovenel Moise, the experts said.

Moise has persistently declined an offer from the regional bloc- CARICOM made the offer in July 2019 and another one in February. He had recently invited a diplomatic mission from the Organization of the American States to see how it can assist in the situation.

The OAS has not yet given out its feedback on the condition in the Caribbean country after a delegation containing five members ended a quick visit to the country on 11th June. The president of the OAS Permanent Council requested that the report be given to Jovenel and other relevant people before 25th June.

However, it will be up to Caribbean community leaders to decide what role the regional bloc will play, if there will be any. Haiti being a member country, the leaders of the Caribbean community chose to take in a group of experts to report on the country’s political situation. The report is designed to understand the aspect of distress clearly, focus on questions about when Moise will leave the office, and his persistence to conduct a constitutional referendum that many are against.

The secretariat based in Guyana said that a suggested emergency meeting of the regional bloc officials meant to discuss Haiti’s issues was postponed. “The international community seems to believe that elections will be a solution to the current Haitian political chaos,” the experts said in their 17-page report. “However, previous Haitian history of elections has shown that disputed polls with limited public participation will give rise to further political problems.”

The CARICOM experts have made some observations in the report that has been shared with member countries. Among the observations are:

  • The postponing of constitutionally required legislative votes contributed significantly to the growth of political instability and raised new fears and doubts about Haiti’s political administration to dedicate itself to good governance.
  • Among the disagreeing groups against Moise’s understanding that his ruling will end on 7th February 2022 were: important and influential civil society institutions such as the Association of Magistrate, the Haitian Federation of Bar Associations, Haitian Superior Council of Judicial Power, the Catholic and Protestant church leaders, prominent constitutional lawyers and human rights associations.
  • The expert group asked the Haitian people, and they repeatedly said that the current constitution needs to be reformed. However, they agreed that reforming the constitution outside the appropriate positions of the existing constitution will negatively affect the legality, transparency, and credibility of the exercise and its outcome. A referendum is prohibited in the present charter.
  • The delayed referendum to acquire the new proposed constitution, a methodology forbidden by the current constitution, with the lack of a threshold for participation and the specification of the amount of ‘yes’ votes needed to dictate the referendum’s success. Further questions of acceptability and legitimacy of the exercise and its outcome arise.
  • Despite the arguments by president Moise that he needs to amend the constitution to take advantage of a weak government system that is not able to regulate or tax it, he has succeeded in pushing the affluent and influential electricity and fuel suppliers to pay tremendous debts and cut off their outrageous profits.
  • There are fears of the voters being deprived of the right to vote. There is also the worry about the fairness of the electoral registration process, especially after the two non-Haitians were detained after being caught with two voter identification cards.
  • As political instability worsens, the internal police force problems and concerns about its effectiveness in tackling the increasing crime cases point to a bigger problem- the ability of the Haitian government to project authority.

As many organizations continue to be extensively frustrated by the ongoing Haitian political chaos, CARICOM has been seen as the prospective arbitrator. However, the regional bloc has been unwilling due to the unsaid support of the U. S., United Nations political mission in the Caribbean nation and Organization of American States for Moise, and the organization’s own history with the country’s political instability.

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