Haiti’s Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe resigns, anti-government protests continue

Jouthe’s resignation has come at a time when Haiti is experiencing severe social and political crisis with high levels of insecurity and violence

April 15, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Haiti’s Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe resigned from his post on April 14. Photo: Joseph Jouthe/Twitter

Haiti’s Prime Minister, Joseph Jouthe, on April 14, resigned from his post, which he had held since March 2020. Jouthe announced his resignation on Twitter without explaining the reasons for his decision.

“This evening, I submitted my resignation to the President of the Republic, H.E. Jovenel Moïse. It has been an honor to serve my country as Prime Minister. I thank the members of my Government, the technical and financial partners for their collaboration. May God bless Haiti!,” tweeted Jouthe.

Shortly after Jouthe’s announcement, de-facto President Moïse, through a tweet, reported that he had accepted his resignation and said that it would allow “addressing the glaring problem of insecurity and continuing discussions with a view to reaching the consensus necessary for the political and institutional stability of our country.” Moïse also informed that foreign affairs minister Claude Joseph would take over as the new interim Prime Minister of Haiti.

Jouthe was appointed as Prime Minister by Moïse on March 2, 2020. However, his appointment was not ratified by the Haitian Parliament as established in the country’s constitution because the parliament has been deemed defunct since January 2020 after legislative elections did not occur in October 2019. Last month, local newspapers reported that Jouthe presented his resignation letter to Moïse without specifying a date.

Jouthe’s resignation has come at a time when the country is experiencing severe social and political crisis. Since January, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have been mobilizing in different parts of the country in rejection of Moïse’s illegitimate government and his unconstitutional plans. The majority of citizens, opposition forces, social organizations, legal institutions and religious groups do not recognize Moïse as president and allege that he is a dictator since he has overstayed his constitutional mandate.

According to the article 134-2 of the Haitian Constitution of 1987, Moïse’s presidential term ended on February 7. However, he has refused to leave power and has been ruling unlawfully under the support of imperialist forces such as the US, the EU, the UN and the OAS. Haitians are demanding that Moïse respect the constitution and step down and the international community respect their self-determination and sovereignty.

Additionally, since January 10, the citizens have been taking to the streets against Moïse’s decision to hold a referendum in June to replace the current constitution with a new one that provides for the return to a presidential regime, as well as to hold presidential and legislative elections in September.

According to the Federation of Haitian Lawyers, Moïse does not have any legitimacy to organize these electoral processes as since January 2020, he has been ruling by a decree with a non-functional parliament. The opposition has reminded that the 1987 Constitution prohibits its modification through popular consultation, and has refused to participate in the drafting of the new Constitution. Haitians are demanding that Moïse transfer power to the agreed interim government, which will administer the country for the next two years in order to stabilize and recover the country’s institutions, and organize elections for the next government.

In the midst of this socio-political unrest, the climate of insecurity and violence is soaring in Haiti. The kidnappings and murders by criminal gangs to extort money have increased and Moïse’s security forces have failed to address the situation. This Sunday, on April 11, at least 10 people were kidnapped in and around the capital Port-au-Prince. Among the victims, seven are members of the clergy, five Haitians and two French nationals.

Read more: Haitians hold historic mobilization in defense of their constitution

Yesterday, on April 14, members of numerous civil society and social organizations demonstrated outside the National Palace, peacefully surrounding it to demand an end to Moïse’s dictatorship and the rampant insecurity in the country. A photo exhibition, displaying the photos of the victims of the recent massacres by armed gangs in vulnerable neighborhoods, was held at the Champs de Mars public square.

A national strike was called for today, April 15, by numerous trade unions in rejection of the US-backed dictatorship in Haiti, the US intervention and neo-colonialism.