Political Crisis In Haiti: President Refuses To Hand Over Power

The Haitian president, Jovenel Moise, wants to force the retirement of three judges that the opposition has nominated as possible interim mandataries in a context of crisis and tension over the direction of the country.

“Citizens Yveckel Dieujuste Dabresil, Wendelle Coq Thelot, and Joseph Mecene Jean-Louis, judges of the Court of Cassation, are retired,” announces the special issue of the Haitian Official Journal.

In a country where the judiciary is theoretically independent according to the Constitution, these three judges are part of the political opposition that considers that Moise’s mandate ended last Sunday.

Haitian law states that judges of the country’s highest appeals court are “immovable” and that they “can only be removed for legally pronounced default or suspended only after an accusation.” Moise’s decision is an additional pressure against the political opposition that appointed Joseph Mecene Jean-Louis as interim president on Monday.

On Sunday night, Joseph Mecene Jean-Louis, 72, declared in a video message that he “accepts the choice of the opposition and civil society to be able to serve the country as interim president of the transition.”

Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent called Jean-Louis’ declaration a “raving bordering on madness” and ordered to take “all coercive measures” necessary to maintain order in the country. Hours later, Moise ordered the retirement of Jean Louis and two other opposition judges through a decree that apparently violates the Constitution.

According to The Guardian, Judge Yveckel Dieujuste Dabresil, 52, is currently detained in Port-au-Prince at the central headquarters of the judicial police. He is part of the group of 23 people arrested by the police on Saturday night and early Sunday morning, accused by the authorities of an “attempted coup d’état.” The president of the Court, René Sylvestre, made a statement on the matter on Monday, in which he reminded the judges of their obligation to “dissociate themselves from politics.”

Following these actions, the police carried out inspections this Monday in the Court of Cassation, in the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSPJ), and in a house allegedly used by the group accused of conspiring against the State in the Tabarre sector.

According to BBC, Moise maintains that his term at the head of the Caribbean country ends on February 7, 2022. But this date is denounced by a large part of the Haitian population, according to which Moise’s five-year term ended on Sunday, February 7, 2021.

This disagreement over the date arose because Moise was elected in a vote annulled by fraud and then won the new elections, held a year later, in November 2016. Based on the Constitution, the opposition and numerous groups, including the Bar Association and the Catholic Church, consider that Moise’s mandate expired this Sunday.

On Tuesday, after being locked in their homes for 48 hours, Port-au-Prince residents continued to limit their movements to the strict minimum, given the prevailing tension. Moise has less and less support within the country, but last Friday, he received the express backing of Joe Biden’s administration on the thesis that his mandate lasts until 2022.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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