Haiti’s provisional electoral council, unilaterally appointed by the president, announced Thursday that a constitutional referendum and presidential, legislative and local elections will be held by the end of 2021 as gang-related insecurity plagues the country.
The referendum will be held on April 25. The first round of presidential and legislative elections will be held on September 19, with a second round scheduled for November 21, when local elections will also be held.
Votes to elect deputies, senators, mayors and locally elected officials should have been held in 2018 but have been delayed.
Since then, the much-criticized President Jovenel Moise has been without any checks on his power, and in the vacuum has governed by decree since January 2020.
In recent months Haiti has seen a resurgence of kidnappings for ransom that indiscriminately target both the wealthy and the majority living below the poverty line.
The abductions, and the stranglehold of armed gangs on a number of areas throughout the capital Port-au-Prince and the provinces, are all threats to secure elections.
In addition, the advisory committee appointed by the head of state to draft a new constitution has not yet finalized its work, which has already been strongly criticized even by those in Moise’s camp.
A referendum would violate the constitution currently in force, which stipulates that “any popular consultation to modify the constitution by referendum is strictly forbidden.”
The political opposition has already announced a series of demonstrations for the end of January to demand that, according to its interpretation of the constitution, Moise’s term of office will end on February 7, 2021, and not on February 7, 2022, as he and his supporters claim.