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  • In the last months of 2019, several weeks of anti governments protests sparked by severe shortages of food and fuel​​​​​​​ paralyzed Haiti.

    In the last months of 2019, several weeks of anti governments protests sparked by severe shortages of food and fuel​​​​​​​ paralyzed Haiti. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 January 2020
Opinion

Critics say the move will undermine the already fragile democracy in Haiti.

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise declared Wednesday that he will rule the country by decree, announcing lawmakers’ mandates, as well as those of most the senators, had come to an end because no successors were elected in October after the country failed to hold elections.

RELATED: After the Earthquake: 10 Years of Domestic and International Failures in Haiti

Moise said the current situation in the Caribbean nation makes the organization of legislative and municipal elections impossible, adding his decision is the only way to break the country’s political deadlock.

"The current situation is an opportunity to stop the permanent crisis," said Moise.

However, critics say the move will undermine the already fragile democracy.

"Without the opposition, the government seems less legitimate," said Jake Johnston, a senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. "Will he make efforts to work for the whole or will he just pursue his own agenda without checks and balances?"

In the last months of 2019, several weeks of anti governments protests sparked by severe shortages of food and fuel paralyzed the island, and the president has been facing widespread anger over inflation, rampant violence and allegations of corruption.

A former banana exporter, Moise has nearly accomplished three years into his five-year term. He won an October 2015 election that was later canceled over allegations of fraud. The election was repeated in November 2016 and in January of the following year, he was declared president.

Yet the United States’ backed president’s political base was weak or non-existent from the beginning. Electoral turnout for the 2016 election was very low and 10 percent of sheets tallying votes were discarded because of irregularities. In a country of 10 million people, he received just 600,000 votes.

"He won an election, but there's a question around how much of a credible and legitimate mandate that provided him given the extremely low turnout and the lack of faith in the democratic process, to begin with," Johnston said.

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