The Pillars Fall
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Haiti’s last remaining lawmakers saw their terms expire this week, a development that is deepening the Caribbean nation’s political crisis and solidifying what observers call a de facto dictatorship in a country wracked by gang violence, the Associated Press reported.
Ten senators, who had been symbolically representing the country’s 11 million people, saw their terms end Tuesday because the island nation has failed to hold legislative elections since October 2019, leaving Haiti without a single legislator in either the lower or upper house of parliament.
The situation underscores the ongoing crisis in Haiti, which took a turn for the worst following the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, who had also been ruling by decree.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has failed to improve the situation since assuming office shortly after Moïse’s death. For more than a year, Henry has pledged to hold general elections but has failed to do so.
Earlier this month, he vowed to restore the Supreme Court and tasked a provisional electoral council with setting a date for elections. Still, he has not offered a timeline – while asking Haitians to “take me at my word when I speak of my government’s desire to do everything possible to reconstitute our democratic institutions.”
However, analysts are skeptical, pointing out that Henry is “behaving like a dictator” without any checks on his power.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s security situation has deteriorated as organized crime groups continue to all but run much of the country: Murders and kidnappings for ransom have increased, with analysts suggesting that criminal gangs control around 60 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
The crisis and unrest have resulted in thousands of Haitians fleeing their country to neighboring nations, including the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the US.