Haiti PM Joseph Jouthe resigns amid violence: Why is there political instability in the Caribbean country?

Amid the political instability, Haiti has seen a high turnover of Prime Ministers, with eight of them appointed to the position since 2015.

Shailaja Tripathi
Apr 15, 2021, 15:05 IST
Haiti PM resigns
Haiti PM resigns

The Prime Minister of Haiti, Joseph Jouthe has resigned from his position as the country faces an increase in killings and kidnappings and prepares for an upcoming Constitutional referendum and general elections later in 2021.

Joseph Jouthe served as the Prime Minister of Haiti since March 2020 and did not provide any form of explanation for his resignation. However, President Jovenel Moise has informed through a tweet that a new Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, has been appointed.

The President mentioned that the resignation, which he accepts, will make it possible to address the serious problem of insecurity and discussions will continue with a view of reaching the consensus significant for the institutional and political stability of Haiti.

Joseph Jouthe had previously also tried to submit his resignation, but the President at the time had rejected it. Amid the political instability, Haiti has seen a high turnover of Prime Ministers, with eight of them appointed to the position since 2015.

Political instability in Haiti

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas, has been plagued by insecurity, hunger, poverty, natural disasters, and the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Recently, the kidnappings in the country have also surged as the armed gangs have gained influence, as the country faces political instability.

Opposition to the mandate of President Jovenel Moise:

The current President Jovenel Moise's mandate has been disrupted by the opposition leaders who argue that his mandate ended on February 7, 2021. However, the President and his supporters have claimed that his five-year term will only expire in 2022.

The situation further devolved ever since the President’s refusal to leave the office met a crackdown by protestors in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, where the anger and frustration among the citizens continue to boil into the streets.

Why there is a demand for ending President Moise’s tenure?

President Moise had won the first round of elections in the year 2015, however, the vote was marred by widespread voter fraud. It led to the Presidential runoff pushed back several times.

In November 2016, voting was held again and Jovenel Moise won with 55.6% of support. He officially took the office on February 7, 2017.

Now, the dispute by the opposition has been over whether the five-year term of Moise began in 2016- after he won the initial elections- or in 2017, as according to the President and his supporters.

Ongoing demonstrations against President and ongoing security situation

Amid the claims by the opposition of the President’s plan of power consolidation which included the formation of the electoral council for the preparation of the new Constitution and his intention of eliminating the position of Prime Minister among others, the ongoing demonstrations have completely paralyzed the economy of the Caribbean nation.

On February 14, 2021, thousands of demonstrators marched in Port-au-Prince demanding the resignation of the president on the call of the opposition.

Apart from the demonstration against the President, the protests in Haiti have again erupted recently over the security situation in the country as at least 7 members of the Catholic Clergy, two French and five of them Haitian were kidnapped. A $1million ransom was demanded by the kidnappers.

However, because of the protests and ongoing political tug-of-war, much of Haitian society has come to standstill. The instability has paralyzed the education system and businesses are also running at half-speed.

Widespread gang violence

The nation has also been facing widespread gang violence where the pro-opposition and pro-government armed groups have instilled fear in the neighbourhoods in which they exercise control.

According to a report, elections are never really free in popular neighbourhoods. In this context, where almost a third of the national territory is controlled by gangs, their political weight over the next election is pretty much clear.

As gang violence persisted, the United Nation in February 2020 had urged the Haiti Government to end the impunity for the gang leaders.

Haiti Politics: Background

The politics of the Caribbean country takes place in the framework of a unitary semi-presidential republic, where the President is the head of state and the PM is the head of the government.

The Politics of Haiti are considered historically unstable because of regime changes, coup d etats. Internal conflicts and military juntas.

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