Haitian prime minister plans 2022 elections
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he plans to hold presidential and legislative elections in the country in early 2022 as he looks to usher in a period of political stabilization following the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Henry, a trained neurosurgeon whom Moïse selected to become the next prime minister shortly before his assassination, said in an interview with The Associated Press published Tuesday that he would like to hold a referendum for Haiti citizens to consider several proposed changes to the country’s constitution in February, with other elections some time early in the year.
“The elections must be held as soon as possible,” he told the AP, citing significant mistrust in the country’s current constitution and political institutions.
“People don’t believe what is being said,” he argued.
On Monday, Henry dismissed the country’s electoral council, which had been appointed by Moïse amid debate over the end of his presidential term and his attempts to hold a referendum on constitutional changes.
Henry told CNN in an interview that the electoral council would be replaced by another one that “will be more consensual and one that will be accepted by all of society.”
According to the AP, the prime minister has yet to name a new council, which will be responsible for setting dates for a referendum and other elections. Henry has identified the referendum as a top priority.
Proposed constitutional changes include setting a two-term limit for Haiti’s presidents, implementing mandatory military service for citizens once they turn 18 years old and the establishment of a vice presidential role that would replace the prime minister position, according to the AP.
Despite Henry’s desire to implement reforms, he faces opposition from those who would like the constitution to remain in its current form, as well as people who believe he lacks legitimacy because he was not elected directly by the Haitian population.
Political instability that already existed in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere worsened after Moïse’s assassination, which still remains clouded in mystery as investigators work to piece together what led up to the attack.
Haiti’s now former chief prosecutor had asked a judge to file charges against Henry, citing phone calls made to him shortly after the killing by a suspect connected to the assassination.
Henry has denied the accusations, and fired the Haitian prosecutor and justice minister last week.
The prime minister this week also commented on the U.S. decision to ramp up repatriation flights for thousands of Haitian migrants who had crowded under a bridge in a Texas town.
Henry told CNN that while he understood the Biden administration’s policy, he argued that “as long as there are countries that are better off than others, there will always be an appeal towards those wealthier.”