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... Think tank says rushing to elections in Haiti is ‘unrealistic’

Published:Tuesday | January 18, 2022 | 12:08 AM


A fellow at a Washington-based think tank says there is a consensus among most of Haiti’s political factions and the international community that rushing towards elections in 2022 is “unrealistic and simply dangerous for both voters and candidates”.

Writing for the think tank Global Americans, Dr Georges Fauriol warned that beyond the current headlines about insecurity and political paralysis in the French-speaking Caribbean country lies a “political time bomb associated with Haiti’s dysfunctional electoral dynamics”.

Fauriol, who is also a senior associate at the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies , a think tank, noted that February 7, 2022, marks the date when President Jovenel Moïse would have ended his term in office had the president not been assassinated in July last year.

He said that February 7 also marks the date when the interim government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was nominated by the late president, “will lose all of its already diminished credibility”, and the tenures of the remaining 10 elected members of the Senate will likewise come to an end.

“The implications of a post-February 7 vacuum point to an urgent need for a consensus,” said Fauriol, a featured contributor at Global Americans, where he writes on Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean Corner. “The stand-off is between Henry and a combination of disparate political factions on one side, formalised by the September 11 Accord, and a diverse civil society and political party coalition on the other, the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, anchored by the Montana Accord.”

Fauriol, also a member of the Think Tank Haiti Steering Group, said opinions remained divided over whether Henry’s search for a political compromise over the past 90 days was in earnest but added that “its outcome –notably, a Cabinet shake-up and a partial purge of Moïse loyalists – appears too shallow to be politically sustainable.

“Henry’s political standing appears precarious, weakened by growing displeasure among Moïse’s followers and the Haitian Tèt Kale Party and by the president’s failure to gather meaningful buy-in from an increasingly organised and determined coalition of civil society actors and diverse political parties,” he said.

“More broadly, what is left of Haiti’s government structure is something of a Potemkin Village, still recognised by foreign governments and pretending to provide national governance,” he added. “The reality is that it has lost control of large segments of Port-au-Prince and surrounding regions to a coalition of energised criminal gangs, who are also weighing heavily on the declining social and economic livelihoods of the Haitian people.”

Fauriol said that the civil society-backed Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis has undergone internal sniping among its “somewhat fractious members” but noted that it “occupies a key role in shaping the path forward out of Haiti’s multifaceted crises”.

He said the gap with the Henry-led interim government widened when the Commission announced on December 12 the formation of a National Transition Council (CNT), made up of 52 civil society and political leaders.

Fauriol said the CNT’s initial task is to select the members of an executive leadership, which will preside and attempt to provide legitimacy to what amounts to a two-year transition timeframe.

He said this two-year timeframe could “take the back end of this process well into 2023 and highlights two significant debatable assumptions”.

Those assumptions are that no political hiccups occur in the interim, such as projected national and local elections, let alone notions of proposed reform of the 1987 Constitution; and that Haiti receives sustainable diplomatic, security, and financial support to “this wobbly and open-ended timeline from key international actors, notably the United States”, Fauriol said.