Big challenges face Haiti’s new President

Haiti’s new President, Jovenel Moïse, will be sworn in on February 7 following confirmation on January 4 of his landslide first round victory in the country’s November 20 elections. Mr Moïse took 55.6% of the vote, but voter turnout of just 21% suggested that most Haitians have become disillusioned with professed political solutions, and fear that Mr Moïse, like his predecessors, will struggle to resolve the country’s many problems.

Mr Moïse, a businessman from northern Haiti who has never held political office but has extensive experience in the banana and other industries, is a political protégé of the former President, Michel Martelly. He ran as the candidate of the Tèt Kale Party (PHTK).

Although the final result was delayed pending a ruling by the Provisional Electoral Council, after deliberating, it said that that it had found no evidence of large-scale voter fraud. The final results show that his nearest challenger, Jude Celestin, took 19.6% of the vote. There were 24 other candidates.

The process brings to an end the chaotic electoral situation that has prevailed in Haiti following the failure of the original October 2015 elections. Mr Moïse won these elections, but the results were subsequently set aside amid allegations of fraud and resultant unrest. When President Martelly demitted office as constitutionally required in February 2016, an interim President, Jocelerme Privert, proceeded, with external support, to place Haiti back on the path to elections and democratic government.

The US State Department welcomed the final presidential results as “a positive step for the full restoration of that nation’s democratic institutions,” a view echoed by the EU and the UN.

Mr Moïse has promised that his five-year presidency will be marked by “active will and vigilant pragmatism.” However, he is likely to experience difficulties in trying to direct the notoriously difficult to manage and impoverished nation of Haiti.

Despite his clear majority, Mr Moïse faces continuing political instability; high levels of inflation (forecast at 15% this year); slowing economic growth at possibly 1% or less; a depreciating currency….

This is an extract from the Caribbean Council’s leading weekly editorially independent publication, Caribbean Insight, which provides in depth information on current economic, political and commercial developments in the Caribbean and news on events in Europe and the US that affect the region. Business people, academics, and those with a general interest in the Caribbean find it an invaluable tool for developing and maintaining knowledge and providing an insight into political, economic and commercial events in the region.

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