The assassination nearly two weeks ago of President Jovenel Moïse has exacerbated Haiti’s already dire situation – political turmoil, spiraling violence, precarious and deteriorating economy – into a full-blown and deepening crisis. World leaders have routinely condemned the killing and called for justice, but their offers of support of Haiti’s teetering democracy have been uneven and ambiguous at best. Moise’s assassination has created a political vacuum in Haiti, with competing claimants to the role of acting president. Considering the overlapping political, humanitarian, and economic crises, coupled with an absence of broadly legitimate leadership, Haiti is ill-equipped to carry out the presidential elections and constitutional referendum, repeatedly postponed and now scheduled for September 26.
The short-term challenge for Haiti is confirming the institutional authority, let alone political legitimacy of Moïse’s immediate successors. The inevitable dispute emerging over the nation’s leadership, coupled with a fractured opposition, worsens the odds that Haiti’s political community will on its own reach a workable agreement.
What the international community does in the coming weeks is therefore critical. This implies synchronizing a core message – essentially lacking so far.
Against this deeply troubling backdrop, the discussion will examine a variety of questions:
- What are the contours of the political and social crisis facing - Haiti at this moment? What has been the impact of Moise’s assassination?
- How should the Biden administration respond to the troubled situation in Haiti?
- Who are the key actors shaping these events?
- What remains of the plans for a constitutional referendum, and national elections?
- With a mixed record of past achievements, what are practical roles that the US and other international actors can play?
- What must happen immediately?
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