Tag Archives: Haiti’s

Opinion: Moïse’s assassination is a tragic reminder of Haiti’s unraveling democracy

A history of political upheaval, dictatorship and weak institutions, as well as endemic corruption have wracked Haiti for decades and stymied the consolidation of democratic rule and good governance. The country was already on edge following a protracted political crisis centered around the constitutionality of Moïse’s presidential term and a controversial proposal to overhaul the country’s constitution.
While Moïse won the first round of Haiti’s presidential election in November 2015, the runoff was postponed in the wake of fraud allegations. The country eventually scrapped the results and scheduled new elections for November 2016; Moise won outright with a clear majority of 56%.
Meanwhile, an interim president, Jocelerme Privert, served from February 2016 to February 2017.
In Haiti’s polarized political climate, the political opposition has claimed that Moïse’s presidential term started in February 2016, rather than February 2017 — when he actually took the oath of office following do-over elections — and that his five-year mandate thus ended in February of this year. The United States, the United Nations and the Organization of American States supported Moïse’s interpretation, but public anger and social unrest continued to destabilize the country. Moïse did not do much to appease the population, ruling by decree since January 2020 after the mandate of the old parliament expired without an election to replace its members.
Now, the dispute over the constitutionality of Moïse’s term has taken a criminal turn and the question of succession could engender another constitutional crisis. Prime Minister Claude Joseph is currently exercising executive power until new presidential elections can be organized. However, last week Moïse appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, who has yet to be sworn in. Another potential contender for the job, according to the Haitian constitution, would be the head of the Supreme Court of Justice, but that person, René Sylvestre, died of Covid-19 last month and has yet to be replaced.
The lack of a functional parliament makes it unclear who has the authority to approve replacements and confirm officials in the line of succession. For now, the Haitian Armed Forces and National Police have deployed to the streets to maintain control after declaring a state of siege.
Meanwhile, grinding poverty characterizes quotidian life in Haiti. In essence, the country is still recovering from a spate of natural disasters, including the scars of a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 estimated to have killed between 220,000-300,000 people. With more than 60% of the population living on less than $ 2 per day, Haiti often ranks as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. According to the World Health Organization, Haiti — which has experienced difficulties getting vaccine supplies — is one of a handful of nations that has not begun vaccination yet even as Covid-19 cases increase.
Recent years have also witnessed an epidemic of kidnappings and the explosion of gang violence, with many neighborhoods in the capital, Port-au-Prince, controlled by criminal organizations. Thousands of displaced people have sought refuge from the growing insecurity in a stadium on the southern edge of the capital.
The Haiti assassination is yet another incident in a series of political, social and economic crises that have festered throughout the Western Hemisphere. The situation is emblematic of a larger democratic regression afflicting many countries — including Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela — where, in lieu of negotiations and political compromise, taking political prisoners and even conducting political assassinations have become worryingly commonplace.
Haiti’s constitutional crisis has failed to register with many Washington policymakers as well as those in the international community for far too long — in part, thanks to the plethora of challenges already present in the Western Hemisphere. Notwithstanding the Biden administration’s claims to the contrary, the inattention of US policymakers in recent years has contributed to the country’s rapid unraveling.
While four people suspected of assassinating Moïse were shot dead by police and two others arrested Wednesday night, this may well be only the first phase in another one of Haiti’s seemingly interminable crises. The short-term emphasis for the US and the rest of the world should be on supporting Haiti’s political leadership, untangling the constitutional questions likely to arise and maintaining order while ensuring that the Haitian armed forces remain confined to their proper constitutional role.
The international community, and in particular the US, should push for an investigation into the assassination and make resources available for bringing the perpetrators to justice — lest they benefit from the impunity that is all too common in Haiti. In the long-term, the international community has a key role to play in encouraging political and institutional reforms that will advance a national dialogue, generate economic opportunities for all and bring greater stability to Haiti’s turbulent domestic politics.
Moïse’s assassination is a tragic reminder of the country’s unraveling democracy and the need to forge a solution to the escalating turmoil that puts Haiti’s constitutional order and the well-being of its people at its center.

The plot to kill Haiti’s president allegedly spanned multiple countries and involved experienced ex-military officers and months of planning, local officials say

CNN has obtained exclusive information about the hunt for the killers of Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter-turned-politician who was killed in a hail of gunfire in the bedroom of his private residence in the leafy Port-au-Prince district of Petion-Ville at around 1 a.m. last Wednesday, according to government statements.
The Haitian President’s body was found riddled with bullet holes, according to a local official tasked with documenting the crime scene, who also said Moise had suffered a broken leg and serious facial injuries. Multiple government officials described the injuries to CNN as signs of torture. Moise’s wife, Martine, was wounded. She is being treated in a Miami hospital.
“In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries ran into my house and killed my husband,” Haiti’s first lady said in an audio recording released over the weekend. CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the recording.
But despite the abundance of bullet holes documented inside the President’s home, not one member of the President’s security detail or residential staff was hurt, according to authorities.
Exactly what happened inside the president’s home and who masterminded the attack remain the key unsolved questions at the heart of multiple investigations involving senior agents from the United States and Colombia, in addition to local authorities. Top foreign officials, including members of the US National Security Council and Colombia’s chief of national intelligence, have visited Haiti in the wake of Moise’s death.
In a country bitterly divided over its political direction, unease over the mystery surrounding the president’s murder has become a rare unifying sentiment. No one — whether members of the deceased president’s cabinet, his most outspoken critics, or ordinary residents of capital city Port-au-Prince — is satisfied with the limited explanations available so far.
“Where did (the attackers) get the cars that they were driving? How did they get in the country?” Haitian Elections Minister Mathias Pierre asked CNN, adding that he would expect his own security to take a bullet for him.
CNN can now shed light on a small piece of the puzzle: How Haitian security forces first responded to the assassination.
A source with knowledge of the operation has described to CNN a bloody siege and the multi-day pursuit through the President’s affluent neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, the impoverished quartier populaire next door, an abandoned roadside storefront, and the Taiwanese Embassy.

Setting a trap

A corner of the abandoned storefront in Port-au-Prince where suspected mercenaries hid from police.
Social media footage from the night of Moise’s murder showed unidentified men shooting into the air and shouting “DEA operation! Everybody back up!” in English as they marched down the street near the presidential mansion. Haitian security forces who had learned of the attack raced to the house not long after that. But they were too late.
According to a source familiar with the operation, law enforcement teams arriving on the scene in the dark hours of the morning observed a suspicious five-car convoy near the President’s home. Fearing that Moise or others may be being held hostage inside, they avoided a confrontation and allowed the convoy to leave. But there was a trap down the road.
At a sharp bend in Route de Kenscoff, the main road leading downtown, the convoy suddenly encountered a police blockade, where hundreds of security personnel had been mustered in the darkness.
Unable to turn their cars around in the narrow road between a walled-off ravine and a steep green hillside, the convoy’s occupants fled, abandoning firearms inside their vehicles. Desperate for cover, some leaped into the polluted muck of a deep roadside drainage canal; others scattered the surrounding buildings on foot, according to the source.
The majority found shelter in an empty two-story storefront, where a banner quoting Psalm 27:1 still proclaims: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
The store — and its location — offered a refuge of sorts. The overgrown hillside behind the store would slow any possible attacks from the rear. And the storefront’s thick concrete walls could serve as a shield from gunfire. Still, some would not make it out alive.
Haitian security forces' vehicles blocking the road.
Before the sun rose on Wednesday in the Caribbean nation, Haitian security forces learned that the President was dead, and that the suspects trapped by their roadblock had at least two hostages with them, both members of the President’s guard, the National Palace General Security Unit (USGPN).
They were also growing certain that they were facing foreign adversaries — perhaps hired mercenaries. “We could hear them talking and shouting in Spanish,” the source said. “They were talking, and they knew exactly what they were facing.”
Haitian security forces opted to wait the fugitives out, knowing that the night’s intense humidity, windless summer heat, and a lack of drinking water would weaken their defenses. Supplies of water bottles had been found in their abandoned cars.
A little later, around 7 a.m. (8 a.m. in Haiti), a woman in rural Colombia received a phone call from her brother, a man she describes as a “hero.”
Jenny Capador told CNN that her brother Duberney called from Haiti, where he had been working in a private security role; she said he told her that something had gone wrong and he was “under siege and under fire, fighting.”
“But he told me not to worry, and not to tell our mother, that everything was going to be alright,” she said. Capador said her brother was hired to protect, not to kill; she does not believe he was responsible for the assassination of President Moise.
Haiti President assassins gun battle
Hours went by and the temperature rose, with no movement from either side, CNN’s source said. Finally, at 3 p.m., Haitian forces threw three tear gas canisters into the road in front of the shop, allowing plumes of the acrid gas to spread inside. Negotiating began via one of the USGPN hostages’ phones soon after that.
The first of the suspected attackers to emerge from the building were Haitian-Americans — one man, followed by another. The pair identified themselves as translators, according to the source. Next down the hill came the two USGPN hostages, who told Haitian security forces that dozens of people — armed with 5.56 mm assault rifles — were still inside the concrete building.
“In the beginning, we didn’t know how many people there were until the hostages were released. Then the hostages said there were about 25, and I said, ‘Oh, OK, we’re dealing with a platoon,'” the source said.
A small vanguard of Haitian forces began an assault to seize the occupied storefront. According to CNN’s source, the alleged mercenaries were well-armed, and even threw a grenade at the Haitian security forces, though it did not detonate.
“They were shooting at us from the second floor,” the source said. “And they had a grenade, but it didn’t work. Can you imagine, the grenade just rolling like a ball — tak, tak, tak — down the hill?” they added, miming the imaginary grenade’s path.
At least three suspected mercenaries died in the battle. Traces of the two-hour shootout are clearly visible in the building itself, which remains littered with bullet casings and broken glass. In one narrow open-air passageway at the back of the building, a pool of blood and a dense constellation of bullet holes in the wall reveal the spot where someone died.
But most of the group that Haitian security forces had expected to apprehend had already vanished.

Escape to the Taiwan Embassy

Security forces now know the suspects had been quietly escaping up the hill, according to CNN’s source.
Just how a group of foreigners knew that the embassy of Taiwan was a short distance away is unclear, but a number of fugitives climbed the hill and crossed two stone alleyways to breach its high white walls. They could not do it unseen — at least one of the onlookers notified law enforcement.
To shelter in the embassy was either a clever choice or an extremely lucky one, since diplomatic spaces cannot simply be accessed by law enforcement. It remains unknown if the group was being advised by someone local who knew the area well.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou told CNN security guards reported that “a group of armed suspects” entered the embassy grounds without permission. Embassy staffers had been working from home “for safety reasons” that day, following the President’s assassination the previous day, she also said.
“After our embassy in Haiti received a request from Haiti authorities, we immediately agreed to let Haiti police enter our embassy to cooperate in the hunt for the suspects, so that justice can prevail, and the truth can come to light,” Ou said.
On Thursday, 11 of the suspected mercenaries were found and arrested without incident inside the embassy. More were eventually found in the surrounding area; social media video shows at least two suspects being escorted by a crowd of Haitians in the impoverished neighborhood of Jalousie.
But some suspects remain on the run, and Haitian police have called on residents to remain vigilant.
Aerial view of Jalousie, a poor neighborhood near the site of the standoff.

The hunt for answers continues

At least 28 people are now suspected in the killing, according to Haitian police, of which 26 have been identified as Colombian. Twenty have been detained, including the two US citizens who said they were translators.
Several of the men believed to be involved in the operation previously worked as informants for the US Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI, according to people briefed on the matter.
“At times, one of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise was a confidential source to the DEA,” the DEA said in a statement.
“Following the assassination of President Moise, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA. A DEA official assigned to Haiti urged the suspect to surrender to local authorities and, along with a US State Department official, provided information to the Haitian government that assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual.”
The FBI said in response to CNN’s reporting that it doesn’t comment on informants, except to say that it uses “lawful sources to collect intelligence” as part of its investigations.
No comment from the detainees has been released to the public.
Jenny Capador learned that her brother had been killed on Thursday. By Friday, Duberney Capador’s mugshot had been shown at a press conference by the Colombian National Police where he was named as one of the alleged assassins, according to preliminary investigations by the Colombian and Haitian police.
At a press conference on Sunday, Haitian authorities added a new name to their investigation, announcing that they arrested a Haitian-born man, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, whom they suspected of helping to orchestrate the assassination. They said he used a Florida-based Venezuelan security firm to recruit the group. CNN has not been able to reach Sanon or his representatives for comment since his arrest.
But as the intrigue around the Haitian President’s assassination widens across the region, there are still more questions than answers, including — most crucially — the mystery of what went on in the moments before Moise’s death.
The answer to that should be right here in Port-au-Prince, in surveillance footage from the residence and in the testimony of security personnel and residential staff, who by multiple accounts were there when it happened.

Development by Sean O’Key. Graphics by Sarah-Grace Mankarious. Video production by Matthew Gannon, Jeffrey Hsu and Nick Scott.

Several of the men involved in the operation that killed Haiti’s president previously worked as US law enforcement informants, sources say

At least one of the men arrested by Haitian authorities previously worked as an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA said in a statement in response to CNN.
“At times, one of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was a confidential source to the DEA,” the DEA said in a statement.
“Following the assassination of President Moïse, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA. A DEA official assigned to Haiti urged the suspect to surrender to local authorities and, along with a U.S. State Department official, provided information to the Haitian government that assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual,” the DEA said.
The DEA said it is aware of reports that some assassins yelled “DEA” at the time of their attack. The DEA said in its statement that none of the attackers were operating on behalf of the agency.
Others also had US ties, including working as informants for the FBI, the people briefed on the matter said. The FBI said in response to CNN’s reporting that it doesn’t comment on informants, except to say that it uses “lawful sources to collect intelligence” as part of its investigations.
Moise was killed Wednesday in an operation that Haitian authorities say involved at least 28 people, many of them Colombian mercenaries hired through a Florida-based security company.
Authorities on Monday announced the arrest of a suspect who they say orchestrated the assassination. Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, entered the country on a private jet in June, Police Chief Leon Charles said at a news conference.
Haitian authorities say that Sanon hired Florida-based CTU Security, which they alleged recruited men initially to provide security for Sanon, though their mission appears to have changed thereafter.
It’s not clear that the men who worked as US law enforcement informants wittingly participated in the assassination plot or were aware of the mission, the people briefed on the matter said.
CNN has not been able to reach Sanon or his representatives for comment since his arrest.
Haitian authorities have provided limited details on the investigation, but the growing number of Florida connections to the plot appears to portray an operation at least partly hatched in the United States.
That may increase the likelihood that the US Justice Department could bring charges against any US participants in the plot. Haitian authorities have said three US citizens are under arrest for their involvement in the assassination.

How the Assassination of Haiti’s President Follows Years of Turmoil

The country freed by slaves from French colonial overlords more than 200 years ago has struggled with a legacy of corruption, violence and political paralysis.

The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti in a brazen attack at his private residence on Wednesday compounded the Caribbean nation’s turmoil and deepened fears of more widespread political violence.

The interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, said the president had been “cowardly assassinated,” called on the country to “stay calm,” and sought to reassure Haitians and the world that the police and army were controlling the situation.

But Mr. Joseph’s words did little to blunt concerns of possible chaos.

“There is no more Parliament, the Senate is missing for a long time, there’s no president of the Court of Cassation,” said Didier Le Bret, a former French ambassador to Haiti, adding of Mr. Joseph: “Everything will rest on him.”

A history of political violence.

How the Assassination of Haiti's President Follows Years of Turmoil
Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

The assassination of Mr. Moïse is the culmination of years of instability in the country, which has long been seized by lawlessness and violence. Haiti, once a slave colony notorious for the brutality of its masters, won independence from France after slaves revolted and defeated Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces in 1803. But in the two centuries since, Haiti has struggled to emerge from cycles of dictatorships and coups that have kept the country impoverished and struggling to deliver basic services to many of its people.

For two decades, the country suffered under the dictatorship of François Duvalier, known as Papa Doc, and then his son, Jean-Claude, known as Baby Doc. A priest from a poor area, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, became the first democratically elected president in 1990. But in less than a year, he was deposed in a coup, then returned to power in 1994 with the help of thousands of American troops.

Mr. Aristide was re-elected in 2000, but forced out again after another armed uprising and went into exile. He has called it a “kidnapping” orchestrated by international actors, including the American and French governments.

Earthquake, cholera, corruption.

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

When a devastating earthquake flattened much of the country in 2010, the disaster was seen as an opportunity to resuscitate battered infrastructure and start fresh, by shoring up the government’s own capacity to rebuild. More than $ 9 billion in humanitarian assistance and donations poured in, buttressed by an additional estimated $ 2 billion-worth of cheap oil supplies and loans from the then-powerful ally Venezuela. International aid organizations rushed to help manage the recovery.

But the money did not set Haiti on a new path — and many experts believe the country is worse off since the reconstruction began. A cholera outbreak soon after the quake that killed at least 10,000 Haitians was linked to the arrival of infected peacekeepers from the United Nations, which only admitted involvement years later but denied legal responsibility, shielded by international treaties granting the organization diplomatic immunity.

Michel Martelly, a one-time popular singer who became president in 2011, was accused of widespread corruption and mismanaging funds intended for reconstruction.

Reports by Haitian court-appointed auditors revealed in lengthy detail that much of the $ 2 billion lent to the country by Venezuela was embezzled or wasted over eight years. Before he entered politics, President Moïse, then a little-known fruit exporter, was implicated in one of the reports for his involvement in a scheme to siphon off funds intended for road repairs.

Fed-up Haitians take to the streets.

Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

In the years that followed, persistent economic malaise, rising crime and corruption led to protests by Haitians fed up with their government and demanding Mr. Martelly’s resignation. But he held onto power and after one term tapped Mr. Moïse to succeed him in 2015 elections.

Mr. Moïse’s bid for power was marred from the beginning. His campaign was accused of fraud and corruption and he took power 14 months after voters went to the polls, after an electoral tribunal found no evidence of widespread electoral irregularities. He took office in 2017 facing an indictment for graft related to Venezuelan aid.

Over the next several years, Mr. Moïse used his control of the judicial system to dismiss the charges and undermine the opposition, which never accepted his electoral victory. The result was an increasingly paralyzed government that became gridlocked completely in early 2020, just as the country faced the coronavirus pandemic.

A leadership crisis, power vacuum, and Covid-19.

Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

A disagreement between Mr. Moïse and the opposition about the start of his presidential term spiraled into a full political crisis, leaving the country without a parliament or a new election date. As the crisis dragged on, Mr. Moïse began governing by unpopular decrees, further undermining his government’s legitimacy. Protests against his rule accelerated.

The political gridlock severely undermined the country’s already weak health care system as coronavirus cases spread. Haiti remains the only country in Western Hemisphere to not receive any Covid-19 vaccines as it now struggles to deal with the latest spike in infections. Although official coronavirus deaths remain relatively low because of limited testing, aid workers have said the hospitals are overwhelmed.

Criminal gangs and a reign of terror.

Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

Haiti’s power vacuum has been increasingly filled with the leaders of organized crime, who have taken over parts of the capital over the past year, instilling a reign of terror. Kidnappings, lootings and gang-associated violence have made parts of the country ungovernable, leaving many Haitians fearful to even leave their homes and forcing some aid organizations, on which many in the country depend for survival, to curtail activities.

Rights organizations have linked a surge in gang violence to the country’s political deadlock, accusing prominent politicians of working with organized crime to intimidate opponents and settle scores in the absence of a functioning government.

Last month, one of Haiti’s most prominent gang leaders publicly declared a war against the country’s traditional elites, calling on citizens to raid established businesses.

“It is your money which is in banks, stores, supermarkets and dealerships,” the gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, better known by his alias Barbecue, said in a video message on social media. “Go and get what is rightfully yours.”

Harold Isaac contributed reporting.

Author: Natalie Kitroeff and Anatoly Kurmanaev
Read more here >>> NYT > Top Stories

Haiti’s President Is Assassinated in His Home, Prime Minister Says

President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, center, with his wife, Martine Moïse, in Port-au-Prince in 2019.
Valerie Baeriswyl/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti was assassinated in an attack in the early hours of Wednesday at his home on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, the prime minister said.

Mr. Moïse’s wife, Martine Moïse, was also shot in the attack, Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a statement. Her condition was not immediately clear.

“A group of unidentified individuals, some of them speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president of the republic and thus fatally wounded the head of state,” the prime minister said.

Mr. Joseph said in a telephone interview that he was the one running the country at the moment.

The news rocked the impoverished Caribbean island nation 675 miles southeast of Miami. Haiti has a long history of dictatorships and coups, and democracy has never fully taken root.

In recent months, the streets of Haiti have become clogged with angry protests demanding the removal of Mr. Moïse. He had clung to power, ruling by decree for more than a year, with many — including constitutional scholars and legal experts — contending that his term had expired.

Since a devastating earthquake 11 years ago, the country has not rebuilt, and many say it is worse off, despite billions of dollars of reconstruction aid. Armed gangs control the streets and have taken to kidnapping even schoolchildren and church pastors in the middle of their services. Poverty and hunger are on the rise, and the government has been accused of enriching itself while not providing even the most basic services.

Mr. Joseph said that the president had been “cowardly assassinated,” but that the murderers “cannot assassinate his ideas.” He called on the country to “stay calm” and said he would address the nation on Wednesday. He said the country’s security situation was under the control of the police and the army.

But international observers warned that the situation could quickly spiral out of control.

Didier le Bret, the former French ambassador to Haiti, told France 24 that the political situation was volatile. A new prime minister, Ariel Henry, was scheduled to be sworn into office on Wednesday. Because that had not happened, it was not clear who was running the country, he said.

“It is a big question mark,” he said, warning that the situation could lead to wider violence.

Harold Isaac, Elian Peltier and Constant Méheut contributed reporting.

Protesting in Port-au-Prince in March.
Valerie Baeriswyl/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Jovenal Moïse had been struggling to quell growing public anger over his attempt to hold onto power despite the opposition’s insistence that his term had expired.

Mr. Moïse had been ruling by decree for more than a year. Many, including prominent jurists, contend that his term ended in February. Haiti has been rocked by protests against his rule, and also has suffered a surge in gang activity.

The opposition said that Mr. Moïse’s five-year term should have ended on Feb. 7, five years to the day since his predecessor, Michel Martelly, stepped down. When Mr. Moïse refused to leave office, thousands of Haitians took to the streets, setting trash and tires on fire as they demanded his resignation.

In response, the government announced the arrest of 23 people, including a top judge and a senior police officer, who the president said had tried to kill him and overthrow the government.

“The goal of these people was to make an attempt on my life,” President Moïse said at the time. “That plan was aborted.”

Mr. Moïse insisted that he had one more year to serve, because his term did not begin until a year after the vote that brought him to the top office amid accusations of electoral fraud.

The protests this year were part of broader unrest, with heavily armed gangs clashing on the streets and attacking police stations.

“While exact numbers are still unclear, preliminary estimates suggest that thousands of people have fled their homes and sought shelter with host families or settled in informal shelters,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said last month in a report on the situation.

Haitians took to the streets of Port-au-Prince in March to protest the new Constitution promoted by Jovenal Moïse.
Jean Marc Herve Abelard/EPA, via Shutterstock

Despite public unrest and fragile political support, in the months before President Jovenal Moïse was killed he was pursing an aggressive agenda that included rewriting the country’s Constitution.

Among the provisions he was pushing for was one that would grant Haiti’s leader immunity for any actions while in office, leading critics to charge that he presented a threat to democracy and was setting the country on a course toward authoritarian rule.

“We need a system that works,” Mr. Moïse said in a telephone interview with The New York Times in March. “The system now doesn’t work. The president cannot work to deliver.”

The United States, whose support is critical for Haiti, had called on the country to hold presidential and legislative elections as soon as technically feasible. It also opposed the effort to draft a new constitution along the lines Mr. Moïse proposed.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined the Biden administration’s tougher stance during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June.

Even though many were critical of Mr. Moise’s approach to reshape the government, many Haitians say a new Constitution is needed.

The current one has created two competing power centers in the country — the president and prime minister — which often leads to friction and a fractured government.

The draft Constitution would have abolished the Senate, leaving in place a single legislative body elected every five years, and replace the post of prime minister with a vice president who answers to the president, in a bid to streamline government.

Author: The New York Times
Read more here >>> NYT > Top Stories