Haitian Groups to Meet in Louisiana to Seek Deal on Elections
(Bloomberg) -- Political leaders, academics and NGOs from across Haiti will meet in the U.S. next week to try to hammer out a deal to set up a transitional government and hold elections.
At least six political blocs will present competing solutions at the Haiti Unity Summit in hopes of finding a way to pull the nation out of a crisis that has only deepened since the July 7 murder of President Jovenel Moise. The summit will take place from Jan. 13-19 at the Southern University Law Center in Louisiana.
Haiti has lurched along for more than two years without a functional legislative or judicial branch, and there is no concrete plan on how to hold elections amid rampant gang violence and kidnappings.
Despite the opposing views at the summit, organizers hope to build a consensus behind a single accord, said Georges Casimir, president of the Haitian Diaspora Political Action Committee, which helped organize the event.
The most pressing issue is what happens after Feb. 7, when the term of interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry ends.
Most of the parties agree some sort of caretaker government is needed to organize elections, but there’s less consensus on what it should look like, Casimir said. Some, including the ruling party, want a single head of state, while others are proposing a power sharing agreement that would include a prime minister and a president.
If this issue “is not addressed or advanced, then we won’t have accomplished much,” Casimir said in a phone interview.
Mired in a recession and the worst poverty in the Americas, Haiti is facing sporadic fuel and food shortages as powerful gangs shut down areas of the country. Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who took over after President Jovenel Moise was murdered in his home by a hit squad, said he himself was the target of an assassination attempt this month.
Retired U.S. Lieutenant General Russel Honore will be mediating the sessions. A fully functioning government is desperately needed for Haiti to tackle issues like public health, gang violence and economic development, he said.
Despite his military background, the summit has no ties to any U.S. government agency and is a Haitian-led and community-funded event, he said in a phone interview.
The organizers are hoping a final, unified, accord can be presented to the international community and be implemented.
“Not everyone will get what they want,” Honore said of the meeting, “but the country will get what it needs.”
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