PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI- A transition council was formally appointed by Haiti’s prime minister on Monday to oversee long-awaited general elections in a country without democratic institutions.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry said that it was a significant step toward the government’s goal of holding elections this year, despite many doubts.
“It is the beginning of the end of the dysfunction of our democratic institutions,” he said.
A presidential election has not taken place in Haiti since the assassination of Jovenel Moise in July 2021. Henry assumed power shortly after Moise’s death and promised that his administration would do so.
The terms of the remaining 10 senators expired in early January, leaving over 11 million people without elected officials.
As Haiti spirals into poverty, hunger, and increased violence, Henry urged all Haitians to unite and fight for change. Additionally, the prime minister thanked the three members of the council for joining the government for the “noble and thankless task of serving our country.”
The council’s three members are Calixte Fleuridor with Haiti’s Protestant Federation, representing civil society; Mirlande Manigat, a law professor and former first lady and presidential candidate, representing political parties; and Laurent Saint-Cyr, president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce, representing the private sector.
As gangs continue to become more powerful since the presidential assassination, leading to an increase in killings, kidnappings, and rapes, the council will also work with government officials to reform Haiti’s constitution, implement economic reforms, and reduce violence.
Before election planning, the High Transition Council will also choose the members of a provisional electoral council.
According to Henry, elections cannot be held until Haiti becomes safer: “It would not be acceptable for the state to ask politicians to campaign if the state cannot guarantee their security,” he said.
According to him, the new council also supports his call for foreign troops to assist in quelling violence in Haiti, a request he made in October that has not been heeded by the U.N. Security Council.