No elected government is left in Haiti, as the impoverished country sinks under gangs, disease, and starvation.
Repeated failed attempts to hold elections left Haiti in a precarious position – only 10 out of 30 senators were left in their parliament, and those had no power and no longer convened. And the terms of those 10 expired on Monday night, meaning that the country has tipped over that precipice; Haiti has no functioning elected government left. And no one can agree on the legitimacy of the interim government left behind, which has set no dates for any future elections.
Haiti has been struggling under overlapping crises for years – earthquake after earthquake, severe endemic poverty, no public water, a cholera outbreak, famine, high gang activity making it difficult to disseminate aid, and the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021.
“The entirety of the power right now is in the hands of the interim prime minister, who has been appointed in highly irregular circumstances and who is very illegitimate among great proportions of the Haitian population,” said Renata Segura, deputy director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Crisis Group.
The interim prime minister is Ariel Henry, who succeeded Moise as president by fiat and was never ratified by any vote. Most Haitians see him as illegitimate and oppose his seeking outside aid. Many believe he was complicit in the assassination of his predecessor.
The U.S. and Canada are discussing leading an international security force into Haiti, with the aim of stopping the increasing flow of Haitian refugees coming into the U.S. Some think their presence could also help ensure legitimacy of future elections, but experts warn that foreign intervention in those elections would, and should, have exactly the opposite effect. Haiti, founded in a slave revolt, does not welcome outside influence easily.
Photo: Hatians buy and sell merchandise in front of a collapsed building in Port-au-Prince after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Credit: arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com