Haitian Legislators Fail Again to Debate Motion to Impeach President Moise

Jovenel Moise, the winner of Haiti's presidential election, speaks during an interview in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Jeanty Junior Augustin/Files

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, CMC – Haitian legislators are to meet to set a new date for hearing a petition by opposition deputies to impeach President Jovenel Moise, after yet another attempt fizzled out on Monday.

At least 21 deputies had filed a motion accusing Moise of high treason, claiming that he had violated the Constitution and was leading the country to “the edge of the social explosion”.

The first attempt at debating the matter last week failed after the majority of the deputies, most of whom are aligned to Moise’s party, said that it was up to those who are accusing to provide evidence of violations of the Constitution.

Other legislators said they were disappointed that those who had been demanding for several months this special sitting so as to put to the vote a motion to impeach the Head of State, were not in a position to do so.

But when the matter came up for debate on Monday, only a few deputies were present at the start forcing an adjournment to late in the day when the quorum was obtained with 60 deputies present.

However, soon after announcing the start of the session, Speaker Gary Bodeau, spoke of the security situation outside the Parliament building where more than a 100 opposition supporters erected barricades of burning tires in front of the building.

They also threw stones shouted hostile statements against the majority of the parliamentarians who oppose the indictment of President Moïse.

The authorities said that several vehicles were damaged as the protestors clashed with police who used teargas to remove them from in front of the building.

Following discussions with the presidents of the three parliamentary blocs, Bodeau said that a new date would be set for the debate.

Political observers say that the debate is aimed at prolonging the ratification of the new government, which would also delay the implementation of emergency measures to overcome the economic crisis that the country is facing.

Earlier this month, Moise called on Parliament to approve the nomination and government of Prime Minister Fritz William Michel, describing him as  “a brilliant civil servant who has devoted his entire career to serving the people of Haiti”.

Michel, a former executive in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, became the fourth prime minister of this French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country since President Moise became the head of state in 2017.

He has since named an 18-member Cabinet, equally divided between men and women and is waiting to present his general policy statement to parliament.

Meanwhile, the Haitian government has recalled three diplomats from its embassy in the Bahamas including Chargé d’Affaires François Michel. The recall follows a Commission of Inquiry into concerns of corruption earlier this month.

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau reported Tuesday that Michel, Consul Herns Mesamours and First Secretary Blaise Claudy had received their letters to return to Port au Prince last week.

The Commission of Inquiry had centred on claims the embassy was involved in getting visas for Haitians and finding fake partners for them to marry to gain status in the Bahamas.

In a statement announcing the commission, Haiti made reference to the media coverage of an arraignment of three Bahamians and two Haitians accused of a fraudulent marriage scheme on July 24. According to an embassy statement, the Commission met with the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the two Haitians in prison awaiting trial; the superintendent in charge of the investigation and other government officials.

The commission’s report has not been made public.

Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield has since dismissed Haitian media reports that Nassau had advised it no longer wished to work with diplomatic staff at the embassy here.

“The Bahamas government has no knowledge of this. I refute any assertion that we intimated in any way to the Haitian government any issues concerning personnel at the embassy in that regard,” he said.

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