Haitian president rebuffs opposition calls to step down

Haiti’s opposition political parties are expected to form an alternate government today in a bid to force incumbent President Jovenel

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Photo: AFP

Haiti’s opposition political parties are expected to form an alternate government today in a bid to force incumbent President Jovenel Moise from office.

The opposition’s actions are a response to an ongoing dispute over the official end of Moise’s term. The president argues his term started on February 7, 2017 when he was sworn in and that it ends on February 7, 2022. The opposition argues that Moise’s term started in January 2016 when the incumbent was an interim president in the wake of another disputed election in 2015.

Moise is likely to hold onto power for now. While the constitution is ambiguous on the present matter, the president still has the full support of the security forces and of the US and the Organization of American States.

The legal ambiguity will fuel further unrest in the coming months. Moise plans to hold a constitutional referendum in April but is cagey on what reforms he seeks to pursue. Should Moise attempt to legalise a constitutionally illegal second-term run, as the opposition fears, he will most certainly spark further unrest and lose US and regional support. However, a roadmap to parliamentary elections will dampen protests and avoid further crisis.

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