Despite the opposition’s last-ditch efforts to unseat the president by this Sunday, February 7, 2021, as the constitutional date on which his administration comes to an end, President Jovenel Moïse is forging ahead with post February 7, 2021 plans for the country. After the preliminary report from the consultative body charged with drafting a new Constitution, the President was emboldened to predict that there will be new elections after the new constitution is adopted in the referendum scheduled to take place on April 25, 2021. Citing the constitutional change as one of his signature achievements in addition to energy production, the President quickly reminded the people that after 34 years, the nation can no longer support the 1987 Constitution which in his view has outlived its usefulness as the guiding principle on which the state is run, instead, it has become a charter that created divisions between elected officials and state institutions. Touting the advantages and importance of the soon to be adopted constitution, pending the referendum, the President is confident that the country needs this new constitution which will put the nation on a new path of progressive improvement.
According to Mr. Moïse, the country needs this new constitution to create a symbiosis, a synergy among the branches of government and if the referendum passes, the president will use it to organize elections in September; especially if the senate is truly abolished, it will modify how the legislative elections are held. According to the President, there will no longer be transitional governments in the country. True to his convictions, President Moïse invites his opponents to reconsider their desire to establish a transitional government on February 7, 2021. Mr. Moïse has no intentions of handing over power to a transitional government and encouraged the opposition to instead begin campaigning in earnest because there will be elections in September, and that is the only way they can gain power. Speaking on the atmosphere of insecurity that has cast a pall on the nation for some time now, the President only reiterated his long-held position that it is those resistant to change who are at the base of such insecurity.
Meanwhile, the opposition leaders calling themselves the Tèt Ansanm movement met on past Friday January 29, 2021 at Terrace Garden to come up with the modalities for a transitional government, an agreement they qualify as a break from all previous proposals, including the Marriot Accord put in place in November 2019. Though they try to project a shift from the past, the proposals coming from this new group has not changed much from the ones they have been proposing since Mr. Moïse came to office. The opposition is still proposing a transitional government which President Moïse has repeatedly said is not possible. The call for a national debate on issues facing the nation will not be possible either since the President is forging ahead with a new constitution that will set the conditions for change of power once and for all. For all its intentions, the new accord has not differed in any way from the ones proposed in the past.
Elsewhere, a group of unions calling themselves À l’initiative du Collectif des syndicats haïtiens pour le respect de la Constitution de 1987 (COSHARCO-1987), those opposed to the constitutional change had called for a national strike for Monday, February 1 to oppose kidnappings, insecurity and crime, and the departure of President Jovenel Moïse by next Sunday. The call for strike was well heeded as most economic activities across the country came to a halt on Monday. There were several demonstrations earlier on Sunday. Despite the success of these protest actions, there are serious questions regarding their long-term effectiveness. Will these two-day actions, successful as they may be, result in a cessation of kidnappings or are they effective enough to force President Jovenel Moïse out of office?
In other news, the Ministry of health and population announced the reappearance of scabies (gratèl) in the country in recent days. The disease which is commonly transmitted through human contact has appeared in areas across the country and public health officials are calling on people to be aware and follow measures they have put in place in to avoid spreading the disease. According to health officials, measures have been put in place to constrain the propagation of the disease, including mobile clinics and health care workers dispatched to such areas as Petion-ville, Carrefour to care for those already infected. The same health officials were in the areas of Morne Hercule and Bertin on January 28, 2021. Medical kits have also been shipped to health centers across the nation including in Gonâve and Ti Goâve. In the meantime, the health officials have suggested these measures for people to take against scabies, commonly known as gratèl; Take showers; avoid contact with people already infected; wash and disinfect clothing, linen, pillowcases, and wash cloths; and aerate their homes as well as not scratching themselves even when they have the itch to do so.
Finally, pre-carnival festivities were brutally interrupted Sunday night in Port-au-Prince when heavy gunfire was heard near the Champs-de-Mars, causing mayhem as hundreds of revelers who showed up to try to forget their misery and violence year-round had to scamper for their lives. In Jacmel, the bastion of carnival on the other hand, things went on smoothly with several walking bands parading quietly without incident, regarding their cheering and adoring fans lined up to watch and take in the atmosphere. But this atmosphere was shattered when one of the revelers, Thomas Demorcy, 32, was shot on his way home from the carnival. Overall, the police reported making two arrests: one for disturbing the public peace and the other for sexual assault of a minor. They also reported a dozen cases of people being wounded with knives.