The United States’ diplomat has asked Haitian political players to work towards conducting elections scheduled later this year. Top Haitian rights experts have rejected the demand saying it’s a mistake amidst the deep political crisis happening after the president’s assassination. US secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to reporters on Monday, calling on Haitian officials to bring the nation together around a more inclusive, peaceful, and secure vision and plan for free and fair elections later this year.
The United States and United Nations have declared that legislative and presidential elections scheduled for September should continue despite president Jovenel’s murder. But the murder has subjected Haiti to a deepened political instability and an increase in gang violence, causing the civil society activists and other rights experts to conclude that conducting elections may not be the best way out of the crisis.
The chief advocate for Haitian human rights, Pierre Esperance, asked the Biden administration to take another approach to the nation than the Trump administration. “In the ongoing situation of insecurity, US must work towards creating a situation where the Haitian people (not the United States and the international community) can decide on the fate of our nation, Build up our democracy, and guarantee our human rights,” Pierre wrote in Just Security website.
Esperance referred to the gang violence that increased rapidly under Moise’s rule and which has led to massive killings, kidnappings, and displacement of thousands of Haitian residents and called Washington’s persistence on holding elections against that backdrop “shameful.” That is a decision that will yield fake results and countless deaths of Haitian people,” he said.
In the current violent and lawless country where no feasible state institutions are active- a situation cultivated by Moise and which possibly cost his life- many questions must be considered. How could opposition candidates campaign safely? How could citizens turn up to vote and be guaranteed they will get home alive? How could citizens know the elections were conducted in a free and fair manner?
A Haitian judge and a political opposition official, Andre Michel, also gave his opinion “the way forward to the political chaos must be Haitian and largely concerted between the political participants, civil society, the diaspora, and grassroots groups.” “Any other solution is unsafe and dead on arrival,” he tweeted.
The Biden administration’s persistence in Haiti holding elections has also raised questions in the United States. “U. S. Haiti decision is at a crossroads,” Democratic Congressman Andy Levin wrote on Twitter. “Will we support an empty form of democracy, demanding elections soonest even if they are not free and fair to focus on choosing among illegitimate pretenders to power? Or will we support Haitian civil society as they do the work to restore real democracy?”
Peter Mulrean, a previous US ambassador to Haiti who served from 2015 to 2017, also commented in a Just Security forum that demanding for Haitian elections in September “would be a mistake.” “The humiliation of Haiti’s democracy is now at a serious point and maybe the point of no return. It is tempting to think that new polls will provide a way forward and restore stability, but experience teaches us just the opposite. What Haiti needs right now is to identify what is broken and fix it. That is what a broad coalition of opposition parties and civil society is asking for,” Mulrean said.