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Haiti in upheaval: what the President’s assassination means for the country

Jul 07, 2021


Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was killed in an attack at his home early Wednesday. His assassination heightens the chaos in Haiti, which has experienced years of political unrest.

Straight Arrow News spoke with human rights lawyer Brian Concannon. He founded the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. He outlines the fragility of Haiti’s government in the wake of Moïse’s death, saying, “There’s concerns that the dismantling is going to continue. Perhaps at a higher rate.”

Even before the assassination, Haiti had become increasingly unstable and disgruntled under Moïse. Economic, political and social woes deepened, with gang violence spiking heavily in Port-au-Prince, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming scarcer at times.

“Haiti has been in a developing crisis for a long time,” says Concannon.

Moïse had been ruling by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections. This led to Parliament being dissolved.

Opposition leaders had accused Moïse of seeking to increase his power, pointing to his approval of a decree that limited the powers of the court that audits government contracts, and another that created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.

Those leaders demanded Moïse step down, saying his term legally ended this past February. Moïse and supporters said his term began when he took office in early 2017, following a chaotic election in which a provisional president served during a year-long gap.

Haiti was set to hold general elections later this year. Concannon says fair elections are key for bringing stability back to Haiti.

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