Haitian President Arrests Alleged 'Coup Plotters' As Protesters Demand He Step Down
Sunday, as opponents insisted his term ended, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse vowed to remain and accused high-level officials of plotting to overthrow him.
Depending on whose side you’re on in Haiti, President Jovenel Moïse was supposed to leave office on Sunday. Moïse instead spent the day arresting opponents he claims were plotting a coup against him.
Moïse said his security forces collared more than 20 alleged coup plotters in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Among them was a Haitian Supreme Court justice, Ivickel Dabresil, and a national police inspector, Marie Louise Gauthier.
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The day of the arrests was significant. Moïse’s opponents insist his constitutional, five-year term began in 2016 and therefore ended Sunday. Moïse argues it won’t end until Feb. 7 of 2022, because he wasn’t able to begin his term until 2017 — due to election unrest the previous year.
Protesters across Haiti on Sunday — angry at relentless corruption scandals, economic collapse and a terrifying ransom kidnapping wave in the country — called on Moïse to step down and accused him of governing as a dictator. He has ruled by decree for the past year while refusing to hold legislative elections.
He’s now set those for September — but not until he holds a constitutional referendum in April that would possibly allow him to run for president again.
The Biden Administration said over the weekend it supports Moïse’s claim his presidency ends next year. But a top Haitian judicial council has ruled it ended Sunday. Meanwhile, angry anti-Moïse protests continue to grow across the country.