Public Anger Was Rising Over Moise’s Attempt to Hold Onto Presidency
In a country plagued by gang violence, public anger was rising over Moise’s attempt to hold onto power.
Protesting in Port-au-Prince in March.Credit…Valerie Baeriswyl/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Jovenal Moise had been struggling to quell growing public anger over his attempt to hold onto power despite the opposition’s insistence that his term had expired.
Mr. Moise had been ruling by decree for more than a year. Many, including prominent jurists, contend that his term ended in February. Haiti has been rocked by protests against his rule, and also has suffered a surge in gang activity.
The opposition said that Mr. Moise’s five-year term should have ended on Feb. 7, five years to the day since his predecessor, Michel Martelly, stepped down. When Mr. Moise refused to leave office, thousands of Haitians took to the streets, setting trash and tires on fire as they demanded his resignation.
In response, the government announced the arrest of 23 people, including a top judge and a senior police officer, who the president said had tried to kill him and overthrow the government.
“The goal of these people was to make an attempt on my life,” President Moise said at the time. “That plan was aborted.”
Mr. Moise insisted that he had one more year to serve, because his term did not begin until a year after the vote that brought him to the top office amid accusations of electoral fraud.
The protests this year were part of broader unrest, with heavily armed gangs clashing on the streets and attacking police stations.
“While exact numbers are still unclear, preliminary estimates suggest that thousands of people have fled their homes and sought shelter with host families or settled in informal shelters,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said last month in a report on the situation.