A storm brewing over Haiti at the OAS

The Gleaner, Ronald Sanders, 8, 2021

Strong disagreement may be brewing at the Organization of American States (OAS) on how to respond to the ongoing, grave political and constitutional crisis in Haiti.

Since January 2020, the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, has been ruling the country by decree without any legislative oversight. The mandates of the members of the Haitian Parliament, except for 10 of them, were terminated because elections were not held.

The rising tension in the country, including use of lethal force by the police against protesters, widespread kidnappings and killing, rape of women, and an arbitrary decision by Moïse to hold a controversial referendum on a new constitution, as well as heightened political contention, caused concerned member states at the OAS, including nine CARICOM countries, to sponsor a resolution at the organization’s Permanent Council to address the situation urgently.

Specifically, the resolution, adopted on March 17, offered “the good offices of the OAS under the authority of the Permanent Council to facilitate a dialogue that would lead to free and fair elections”. It requested the secretary-general, Luis Almagro, “to advise the Government and other major stakeholders in Haiti of the Permanent Council’s offer to undertake a good offices role and to invite the president of Haiti to consider inviting the Permanent Council to do so”.

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