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“We Oppose”: U.S. Weighs In On Haiti’s Constitutional Referendum

  • The U.S. has kicked against the move to draft a new constitution by Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed.
  • This signals a change of position as pressure mounts on the U.S. to drop support for the government of Moise amidst rising violence and a dwindling economy.

After months of refusing to say whether it supports Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s push to submit a new draft of Haiti’s constitution to a popular vote, the Biden administration has publicly voiced its opposition, saying it should not take place.

“That is the position of our government; we’re making that position known,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week during a virtual hearing in which he was asked about Haiti while seeking congressional support for President Joe Biden’s $58.5 billion budget for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Blinken’s comments signal a policy shift on Haiti by the Biden administration, which has been under mounting pressure by members of Congress and Haitian-American voters to drop support for Moïse and change course on Haiti as the country’s turmoil deepens amid rising violence by heavily armed groups and a protracted political and constitutional crisis.

Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S. and Organization of American States, told the Miami Herald that “ultimately, the issue of a new constitution is matter for the people of Haiti to decide.”

“The need for a new constitution is something that has been agreed upon by many, the last agreement signed between some political parties have shown clearly the need for a new constitution, as well as the majority of the population,” said Edmond, adding that Haiti welcomes the Biden administration’s “full support for the scheduled presidential and legislative elections in September.”

The new constitution would take Haiti from a parliamentary to a presidential regime with elections occurring every five years instead of being staggered, which supporters of the reform say is necessary to help Haiti gain a measure of stability. While opponents of the referendum say they acknowledge that Haiti’s charter needs amending, they insist it has to be done within the law — which is through Parliament by amendments — or at the very least with a political consensus.

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SOURCE: Miami Herald

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