Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

What Led to Haiti’s Political Crisis?

The current electoral crisis in Haiti can be traced back to the laws created when former dictator Duvalier went into exile. These laws were meant to check any branch of government from becoming too powerful but have been abused by many presidents to prevent other government branches from functioning. Most recently, US-installed President Martelly has used them to delay elections for over 3 years. Now that most of the terms of Parliamentarians have expired, Martelly is left with full control of the Haitian government.

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What Caused the Haitian Election Impasse?

Teresa Welsh, U.S. News & World Report
January 13, 2015

Haiti’s government failed to reach an agreement to schedule parliamentary elections before a midnight deadline passed Tuesday morning, leaving President Michel Martelly to rule by decree. The elections have been repeatedly postponed since 2011 as the president and opposition parties have failed to agree on terms and timing of the electoral process.

Because there was no agreement, the terms of members of Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies and Senate have expired. The system has 99 deputies and 30 senators, but they no longer have a quorum to pass laws, making them legally unable to function. It is unclear if or how a potential agreement between the president and lawmakers could reinstate their ability to legislate.

Haitian President Michel Martelly, center, speaking during a memorial ceremony in Titanyin, in honor of the victims of earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. Haiti marks the fifth anniversary of a catastrophic earthquake that killed 300,000 people.

Municipal elections have also been delayed.

Haiti is in this position because of the legacy of dictatorship that ended in 1986 when Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, went into exile. The Haitian constitution was then drafted to prevent one leader from dominating the country and to establish a system of checks and balances that would allow one branch of the government to prevent the functioning of another.

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