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Haiti power vacuum

25 June 2019 Carla Selman

On 20 June, a high-level delegation from the Organization of American States (OAS) met with Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse, who called on them to help mediate the ongoing political crisis. The crisis deepened on 31 May when the High Court of Auditors released a corruption report over the misuse of funds from the Venezuela-led Petrocaribe scheme, which involves a company formerly led by Moïse, allegedly contracted by the past government to carry out infrastructure works that were never completed.

The company and the president deny the allegations. This sparked new anti-government protests organized by the opposition to demand Moïse's resignation. Previous protests to demand Petrocaribe-related investigations and against economic deterioration led to the resignation of then prime minister Jean Henry Céant on 9 April 2019.


The opposition is unlikely to give up on its demand for Moïse to step down. The Fanmi Lavalas party, for example, has stated that it will not stop demanding the resignation of the president, who they consider illegitimate in the first place, as he −it claims − was elected in fraudulent elections. The ratification of his nominated prime minister, Jean Michel Lapin, and his cabinet is also highly unlikely. On 30 May, opposition parliamentarians ransacked the Senate, preventing a vote on this for the third time. Moïse is increasingly politically isolated. Not only does he lack a functioning cabinet but is losing support from civil society and even his traditional allies, the private sector, and is losing international financial aid, which is conditioned to having a functioning government.

There are no known non-state armed groups in Haiti, reducing the likelihood of a violent uprising. More likely scenarios would be the president stepping down, forced by violent protests, political high pressure, or an unsustainable economic situation, or a transition agreed with parliament. The UN Core Group has supported Moïse, but a statement by the United States, United Nations, or OAS against the government will increase the likelihood of his being ousted. The opposition agreeing to have the OAS as mediator of a potential dialogue towards stopping protests will indicate that a political transition will be delayed, although an agreement will be difficult to achieve, as sectors of the opposition refuse to negotiate with the government.

Posted 25 June 2019 by Carla Selman, Senior Research Analyst, Country Risk, IHS Markit


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