haitian elections, haiti democracy, civil society haiti, Yves geffard
People protest to demand the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery

By Fr. Yves Geffrard

The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse has left Haiti with an even greater power vacuum. Though Haiti has remained relatively calm in the days since President Moïse’s death, the lack of clarity over who will govern has been a major worry for the international community, which has advocated for elections before the end of the year.

That’s why the Core Group supported Prime Minister Ariel Henry and called for him to continue to form his government. He has said the main mission of his 17-Member cabinet will be to organize elections, but this crisis will not be solved with elections right now.

What Haiti needs right now is a broad, inclusive, transitional government that incorporates and has the support of civil society. 

This government must tackle the insecurity and the famine that impacts more than 40% of the Haitian population. This will be for our future leaders, a service, a mission to help the country rise up again. 

Instead of a president leading the executive branch, the different sectors of civil society should form a government with guidance from Haitian leaders. Such an approach would have the virtue of creating a climate of relaxation and conviviality among the different social strata, of reviving production and the national economy, of encouraging the creation of jobs and wealth. Then, they could form a Permanent Electoral Council to organize the elections.

Funding for the elections would come from the government, not from the international community. So, the holding of false elections without effective participation and not recognized by all Haitians will only push the country further into violence and institutional crisis. 

The way out of this cycle requires the establishment of a transitional government working to consolidate institutions and that can create the necessary climate to hold real elections. This way, the motto “L’Union fait la force” (Unity makes strength) can finally become a reality for our struggling country.

Fr. Yves Geffrard is pastor at Notre Dame Catholic Church in Fort Pierce, Florida. He is the coordinator of the Haitian Apostolate for the Diocese of Palm Beach, a board member for Faith in Florida, and a board member for the National Haitian Apostolate in the United States. 

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