By Kailee Dahan
On Tuesday, January 12, the Haitian Parliament was dissolved after its failure to pass an electoral law that would have extended members’ terms. According to journalist Amelie Baron, “Haiti has not held legislative or municipal elections for three years.” This fact is especially troublesome because Haitian President Michel Martelly is able to effectively rule without legislative opposition if there are not valid elections or an acting Parliament. This is quite concerning to many Haitian people and opposition leaders as they fear that President Martelly is a corrupt leader. Haitian political opponents have gone so far as to say that President Martelly intentionally sabotaged the election deal so that he could rule unopposed. Naturally, President Martelly refutes these claims.
Recent developments note that President Martelly has put forth plans to put together a “consensus government” in the next 2 days to help deter the image of looming political chaos. In a speech this past week, the President urged protestors to remain peaceful amidst recent political developments as he discussed plans to appoint a new prime minister, assemble a cabinet, and create a new electoral authority. These next few days are critical for President Martelly and the crippled Haitian Government as they struggle to maintain power and combat opposition figures. Political turmoil could not have struck at a more precarious time as Monday also marked the fifth anniversary of the 2010 Haitian earthquake that decimated the nation. Just half a decade later, the damage of the earthquake is still being felt by thousands of Haitian people who continue to remain homeless. This period of political instability, alongside suspicions of corruption, could be the final straw for the Haitian people and governmental opponents. The public has been protesting in the streets for weeks now, although in recent days the protests have become increasingly more violent with the protesters starting to voice their grievances and even occasionally call for civil war.
Up to this point, several important foreign nations including the United States have expressed support for President Martelly, even amidst accusations of corruption. UN ambassadors from the United States, the European Union, and Canada have expressed this support through a public statement, saying that they are “gravely concerned that Haiti’s parliament has dissolved with no resolution for holding long-delayed legislative elections.” Additionally, the US Embassy in Haiti released a statement directly supporting President Martelly, saying, “the U.S. will continue to work with President Martelly and whatever legitimate Haitian government institutions remain to safeguard the significant gains we have achieved together since the January 12, 2010 earthquake.” While foreign support is beneficial to Martelly and his plans for the country, only time will tell what is in store for Haiti and its people. The United States and other foreign nations will no doubt attempt to preserve stability within Haiti and ensure that civil war does not break out, but some things are inevitable.