Haiti Now Has No Elected Officials As Political Crisis Deepens

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On Tuesday, the political situation in Haiti reached an unusual and problematic phase when the country’s last 10 remaining senators left office as their terms expired. With no votes having been held to replace them or to fill the country’s other elected positions, Haiti now officially has no elected officials in the entire country. This development adds to a political crisis that has been going on in the country for years.

Political violence and a deepening political crisis

Since gaining its independence from France in 1804 in the culmination of a massive revolt against slavery and imperialism, Haiti has spent centuries being subjected to political interference from abroad and instability at home. The latest crisis in the country began in July 2021 with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise by a team of mercenaries in a plot that still has not been completely uncovered by authorities. Since then, the country has been led by interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph and then by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, both of whom had been appointed at different times by the deceased president.

Political anarchy in Haiti as elections remain postponed

Even before Moise’s assassination, politics in the country had been in a state of decline. President Moise failed to hold elections in 2020, allowing the terms of many of the country’s elected officials to expire without replacement and letting him rule by decree. After Moise was killed, Haiti’s general elections, previously scheduled for late 2021, have been indefinitely postponed. As such, there has been no democratic process to choose public officials for several years. Now, the terms of every elected official in the country, from the Senate to local mayors, have expired, leaving the entire country in a state of political limbo.

Crises of economic and public safety

The political decline in Haiti has contributed to and exacerbated a growing economic and public safety crisis in the country. A major earthquake hit Haiti weeks after Moise’s assassination, creating physical devastation and worsening economic crisis in the country. In the political vacuum and devastated infrastructure, various gangs have emerged to violently assert their control in various locations, particularly within the capital Port-au-Prince. The economic crisis in the country has led to public health crises, including a wave of acute malnutrition among children, as well as large outflows of refugees to other Caribbean nations and to the United States.

In the midst of these circumstances, pressures have increased for foreign powers, including the United States and United Nations, to conduct a large-scale military intervention in the country as they have in the past. Many Haitians, however, want foreign forces to stay out, noting that the country has faced a long history of foreign interventions that have exploited the country and failed to establish long-term stability or prosperity in the country. For the moment, the challenges facing the country do not appear to have a simple fix and the lack of elected leadership will not make it easier to come pu with a political solution to the country’s latest crises.