Authorities confirmed intention to proceed with controversial constitutional referendum in late June despite dwindling international support; vote could worsen political crisis and fuel violent unrest. Interim PM Claude Joseph 4 May confirmed govt’s intention to hold constitutional referendum 27 June. EU Ambassador to Haiti Sylvie Tabesse 6 May said EU would not send electoral observer mission, deeming process insufficiently transparent and democratic; move follows late April withdrawal of support for referendum by Core Group – composed of representatives from UN Sec-Gen office, U.S., EU, France, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Organization of American States (OAS). After Joseph late April said govt was ready to host OAS mission to facilitate inclusive dialogue on political crisis, U.S. 12 May urged OAS to swiftly stipulate mission’s provisions, and OAS Permanent Council 26 May approved terms of reference for three-day mission to be deployed “no later than mid-June”. Protesters 3 and 7 May burned tyres and erected road blocks in several areas of capital Port-au-Prince to protest recent kidnappings of two residents by suspected gang members. Local media 11 May reported authorities had paid gangs in Port-au-Prince to stop or reduce kidnappings; govt immediately denied claim. Meanwhile, health authorities 14 May confirmed presence of two COVID-19 variants in country; World Health Organization 19 May said govt had accepted 130,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in reversal of previous position, and govt 22 May declared state of emergency for eight days to curb rise in infections. UN Children agency late May warned number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition could double this year due to impacts of COVID-19 and rising violence. Dominican Republic mid-May reported completion of first 23km of fence aimed at stemming illegal migration and smuggling along Dominican-Haitian border.
Without an inclusive national pact on critical priorities, President Michel Martelly faces the spectre of a failed presidency, and Haiti risks international abandonment.
The UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) needs a gradual reconfiguration of its operations prior to a withdrawal, to avoid a security vacuum and give Haiti the chance for sustainable development.
A dysfunctional justice system continues to pose significant obstacles to the democratic process in a post-earthquake Haiti where security and stability remain fragile.
Kidnapping, urban gangs and unresolved killings form a trifecta of challenges to citizen safety that the four month-old Martelly administation must confront by speedily completing reforms to professionalise the Haitian National Police(HNP).
A year and a half after a deadly earthquake devastated its capital, 650,000 victims still wait for permanent housing in more than 1,000 unstable emergency camps across Haiti as a new hurricane season arrives.
Haitian authorities and the international community need to ensure that the first post-quake elections meet acceptable standards of credibility and produce the legitimate government needed to carry through massive institutional and infrastructure reconstruction.
Originally published in Huffington Post
Presentation by Mark L. Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group on “Is it time for MINUSTAH to leave Haiti?” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC, 25 July 2013.
Originally published in Reforma
Originally published in Miami Herald
Delayed elections, mistrust and public protests against Haitian President Michel Martelly threaten the country’s chance to end decades of political conflict and to recover from the 2010 earthquake. Without a national accord, the country risks ongoing crises. Javier Ciurlizza, Crisis Group Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, tells us more on the current challenges Haiti is facing.