Haiti to Hold Referendum in June

Haiti constitution
FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, entrepreneur and youth leader Pascéus Juvensky St. Fleur, 26, holds up his copy of the Haitian constitution during an interview in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haiti has unveiled multiple proposed changes to overhaul the country’s Constitution that officials plan to present to voters starting in Feb. 2021 for an upcoming referendum that looms amid growing unrest. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

Haiti has signaled its intention to hold a controversial referendum ahead of presidential and general elections despite growing international criticism.

“A referendum is an act of sovereignty. It essentially concerns Haitians: they are the ones who decide whether or not they want a referendum to change the Constitution,” Prime Minister Claude Joseph told a news conference on Tuesday.

Port au Prince says while it does not intend to abandon its project it remains open to dialogue.

“Some of the concerns expressed by our international friends are well-founded and legitimate,” Joseph told his first news conference since he was appointed Prime Minister on April 14.

“A referendum must indeed be an inclusive process, that’s why the president has initiated the process of dialogue,” he added.

The United States last week reiterated its position that elections should be held in the country. Washington has also said it does not intend to provide financial support for the constitutional referendum.

“We have repeatedly stated that constitutional reform is for the Haitian people to decide. We’ve emphasized to the Haitian government that the US government will not provide financial support for a constitutional referendum,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

President Jovenel Moise, who has been facing calls for his resignation, has been ruling by decree after legislative elections due in 2018 were delayed and following disputes on when his own term ends. In addition to presidential, legislative and local elections in September, Moise wants to submit a new draft of the constitution to a popular vote on June 27.

Electoral officials here have already indicated that staging the elections and the referendum will cost nearly US$125 million and President of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Guylande Mésadieu, said that amount the referendum budget amounts to US $40 million.

A senior government minister, Mathias Pierre, has been quoted as saying that materials for the referendum will arrive in Haiti on May 15.



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