Confusion and concern reigned Wednesday in Haiti, the day after a day in which the prosecutor of Port-au-Prince was sacked after requesting the indictment of the Prime Minister, suspecting him of being involved in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Since the attack perpetrated by an armed commando on the morning of July 7, the first Black Republic in history has sunk even deeper into political, security and humanitarian stagnation, in addition suffering a deadly earthquake on August 14. Scourges aggravated by their accumulation.
– Prime Minister in the hot seat
Jovenel Moïse’s last political decision was to appoint Ariel Henry as head of government. But, even before the funeral of the assassinated president, a standoff was engaged between Mr. Henry and the former interim Prime Minister, Claude Joseph.
After joint pressure from different countries, tensions seemed to ease, with politicians in Port-au-Prince unanimously demanding that those responsible for Mr. Moïse’s murder be brought to justice, a solemn pledge to Mr. Henry.
But, over the weeks, the new Prime Minister has shown his inability to keep another promise: to create a climate conducive to the organization of national elections.
Worse, here is now Ariel Henry in the hot seat, suspected of having had telephone exchanges, in the hours which followed the attack, with one of the main suspects of the assassination of Jovenel Moïse. An accusation that he swept aside without responding, dismissing the prosecutor who reported “serious presumptions” against him.
Yawning institutional vacuum
The sudden vacancy of presidential power since July 7 is the final blow to Haitian democracy. Jovenel Moïse not having organized any election since coming to power in 2017, Haiti now has only ten elected officials.
The deputies left their post in January 2020, leaving the remaining third of the Senate as the symbolic guarantor of the legislative power, without having the slightest capacity to legislate or to control the action of the government with contested legitimacy.
Jovenel Moïse, criticized by the opposition for his authoritarian abuses, had also weakened the country’s justice system by not appointing new judges to the higher council of the judiciary.
In February, after denouncing an attempted coup, Mr. Moïse illegally forced three judges of the Court of Cassation to retire. Due to lack of sufficient members, the highest court of justice in the country is now paralyzed.
No referee in sight
Faced with an ineffective political class, there is no possible alternative for a temporary management of affairs in Haiti.
Demobilized in 1995, the Haitian army is still embryonic, with barely 500 soldiers. Since its resumption in 2015, the recruitment of the Haitian Armed Forces has prioritized the constitution of a corps of engineers capable of intervening in natural disasters.
If the ranks of the national police force (PNH) have grown since its creation in 1995, the country of more than 10 million inhabitants does not yet have 20,000 recruits and the institution is crossed by internal divisions.
That no police officer responsible for the protection of Jovenel Moïse was even injured during the July 7 attack brought serious discredit to the PNH.
Over the past five years, the United Nations, for their part, have continued to reduce their wings in the Caribbean country. The UN first withdrew in 2017 its peacekeepers, sent in 2004 after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, then, in 2019, the United Nations ended their police mission.
Foreign diplomats observe a notable silence. If exchanges are organized informally with the Haitian political class, no official note on the political crisis has been published by the Core Group (composed of representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization of American States as well as the embassies of Germany, Brazil, Canada, France, the United States and Spain) since July 17.
Poverty, insecurity and earthquake
At a time when the majority of the Haitian population struggles to feed themselves daily, insecurity hinders any prospect of economic recovery.
Heavily armed criminal gangs control several suburbs of Port-au-Prince where they carry out villainous kidnappings, and from where they regularly block all access to the only oil terminals in the country.
Finally, a month after the earthquake that devastated southwestern Haiti and killed more than 2,200 inhabitants, 650,000 people, including 260,000 children and adolescents, continue to need a “emergency humanitarian aid“Unicef said on Tuesday.