The top U.S. diplomat has urged Haitian political leaders to work to hold elections later this year, a claim by top civil society activists in Haiti and other experts have dismissed as a “mistake” amid a deep political instability.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Haitian leaders to “unite the country around a more inclusive, peaceful and secure vision and pave the way for free and fair elections.” this year”.
The US and the United Nations have said the legislative and presidential elections scheduled for September in the Caribbean nation should continue ahead despite last week’s assassination President Jovenel Moise.
But the assassination has turned the country, which was already facing widespread political instability and gang violence, into a new mess – and leading civil society groups and rights activists say holding a vote may not be the best way out of the crisis.
Haitian authorities have accused 26 Colombians and two American Haitians of being part of a crew of mercenaries who opened fire on Moise and his wife, Martine Moise, at his home in Port-au-Prince in the early hours of July 7. .
Seventeen Colombian suspects have been arrested and three killed, authorities announced, after interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph ordered a 15-day “state of siege” across the country.
On Sunday, Haiti said yes he stopped the alleged brain behind the murder of Moise, a Haitian man who lived in the state of Florida in the United States, named Christian Emmanuel Sanon.
But the reason is still unclear and questions continue to revolve about who was involved in the assassination, as well as what comes next in the fractured and largely defunct political system of Haiti.
Moise has ruled by decree since last year, while opposition groups, civil society organizations and prominent jurists said his presidential term had ended in February, spurring mass protests urging him to leave office.
Many state institutions do not work, while the country’s constitution is unclear who should lead the government. Joseph claimed authority, but this has been challenged by two other senior politicians, Prime Minister-designate Ariel Henry and Senate President Joseph Lambert.
After the murder of Moses, Joseph he called on the US and the UN to send troops in Haiti to secure key infrastructure last week. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has so far said it has no plans to do so, but has not ruled it out altogether.
The idea of sending U.S. troops was rejected by Haitian journalist and activist Monique Clesca, who told Al Jazeera in an interview Sunday that the history of these deployments in Haiti “is abysmal.”
“Any help we can get in terms of a research team is excellent,” he said, referring to the news research in the murder of Moses. “But I’m sure we don’t need a team of American boots on the ground and I’m so glad they said no, and I hope they keep saying no.”
U.S. government officials traveled to Haiti on Sunday and then met with the three most important Haitian political leaders: Joseph, Henry, and Lambert. Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council, said the U.S. delegation encouraged an open and constructive dialogue to reach an agreement that would allow Haiti to hold free and fair elections.
The United States occupied Haiti from 1915, after the assassination of Haitian President Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, until 1934. “It was an occupation that left Haiti worse than before,” Clesca said, adding that historically United Nations missions in Haiti have also had a negative effect.
“We don’t want it,” he said. “We need to be clear about the way forward and the way forward must be for Haitians, civil society and politicians to come together.”
Meanwhile, Haiti’s top human rights defender, Pierre Esperance, on July 9th instat Biden took a different approach to the country than his predecessors.
“In the current state of insecurity in Haiti, the Biden administration must work to create the conditions in which we, the Haitian people, not the United States and the international community, can decide the future of our country, strengthen our democracy and guaranteeing our basic human rights, “Esperance wrote in a column on the Just Security website.
Esperance pointed out gang violence that increased under Moise’s presidency – and provoked hundreds of murders, kidnappings and mass displacements – and called Washington’s continued push for the September election in this context “shameful”.
This is “a path that will surely result in false and countless results of deaths of Haitian citizens,” he said.
“In such a violent and lawless environment where credible state institutions do not function, a situation that Moise cultivated and that ultimately cost him his life, how could opposition candidates campaign safely? How could the people to vote and know they will come home alive? How can you trust the results? “
Andre Michel, a Haitian lawyer and leader of the political opposition, also said Friday night that “the solution to the political crisis must be Haitian and largely concerted between the political class, civil society, the diaspora and the base groups “.
“Any other process is unhealthy and is dead on arrival,” he said he tweeted.
The Biden administration’s push for the election has also raised questions in the US.
“Haiti’s American politics is at a crossroads,” said Democratic Congressman Andy Levin he tweeted Monday. “Will we support a form of empty democracy, demanding elections as soon as possible, even if they are not free / fair to focus on choosing between illegitimate claimants to power? Or will we support Haitian civil society as they work to restore real democracy? ”
Peter Mulrean, who served as U.S. ambassador to Haiti from 2015 to 2017, also wrote in another Just Security column that forcing the Haitian election this year “would be a mistake.”
“The degradation of Haiti’s democracy is now at a critical juncture, perhaps the point of no return. It is tempting to think that the new elections will clarify the situation and restore stability, but experience teaches us the opposite. What Haiti needs is to take stock of what is broken and fix it. That is what a broad coalition of opposition parties and civil society is calling for, ”Mulrean said.