Haitian Government Adopts Tough Stance Ahead of Referendum Later This Month

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – Justice and Public Security Minister, Rockefeller Vincent, has warned that the authorities will not tolerate any attempt to disrupt the June 27 constitutional referendum in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

RockefellerJustice and Public Security Minister, Rockefeller Vincent“The Haitian National Police and the Government Commissioners are formally instructed in order to secure the process and to crack down with the utmost rigor against any offender and any troublemaker, whatever their political affiliation or social status,” Vincent said.

He said that June 27, “is an important date for democracy in Haiti, where the Haitian people will vote by referendum on the need or not to change the current Constitution.

“This act of national sovereignty must be exercised in complete freedom, honesty and security,” the Justice and Public Security Minister added.

Earlier this week, the Bishops Conference of Haiti called on President Jovenel Moise to postpone the l referendum as the country continues to be plagued by social and political unrest.

“in these difficult times in our history as a people, we hear the cries of our brothers and sisters, cries provoked by such terrible evils as the multiplication of heavily armed gangs that make the law and impose their diktats; violence in all its forms; kidnappings; insecurity that prevents free movement on the national territory; criminality; impunity; political instability; the deterioration of state structures; the high cost of living; the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Bishops said.

The constitutional referendum will be the first referendum in the country since 1987. It was unilaterally proposed by the Moise administration even as the opposition maintain calls to boycott the event.

Moise has said that the referendum is necessary as the government moves to reform the constitution. He has been facing calls for his resignation and has been ruling by decree after legislative elections due in 2018 were delayed and following disputes on when his own term ends. The presidential, legislative and local elections are scheduled for September.

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) has said it intends sending a mission to the French Caribbean island ahead of the referendum.

Vincent said that he wanted to remind the international community that security measures have been adopted to support the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and the population who will fulfill their civic duty throughout the territory

He reiterated the will of the judicial and police authorities to ensure the smooth running of the referendum to be held on the date provided for in the revised electoral calendar.

“A referendum is an act of sovereignty. It essentially concerns Haitians: they are the ones who decide whether or not they want a referendum to change the Constitution,” Prime Minister Claude Joseph told a news conference last month.