Haiti Civil Society Commission Wants to Select New President

A commission composed of representatives of all sectors of Haitian civil society plans to meet Saturday, saying they want to begin the process of naming a new president.Organizers say the group plans to meet with 10 Haitian senators whose terms have not expired. Haiti’s parliament is currently out of session because the terms of most of its members ended before elections could be held to reelect or replace them.One of the organizers of the commission, Ted Saint Dic, said earlier this week that the commission’s effort would not be rushed.“We’re not in a hurry. We want to allow the country to find a way to enter into dialogue and agree on solutions that fundamentally address the biggest preoccupations of the Haitian people,” Saint Dic said.Haiti is facing a power vacuum following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.Several politicians have claimed the right to lead the country, including acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph and Prime Minister-designate Ariel Henry.Joseph assumed power after the death of Moise, however as an acting prime minister he was only in the position temporarily and was set to be replaced by Henry the week of the assassination. That transition did not take place because of Moise’s death.In addition, Haiti’s Senate has nominated Senate President Joseph Lambert to be interim president.Joseph told VOA Creole that “After the president was killed, someone in authority had to step in to take over. Nine days have passed and here we are. That is why I stepped up as interim prime minister to move forward along with the other government ministers.”Referring to himself along with Henry and Lambert, he said, “we have three leaders plus the other sectors — we have to put our heads together to find a solution. That’s what’s important. I am appealing to all sectors of society to unite to resolve this political crisis.”A U.S. delegation that traveled to Haiti earlier this week met with all three politicians claiming the right to lead Haiti.Laura Lochman, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs was part of the U.S. delegation, and told VOA in an exclusive interview Wednesday that the United States will support an inclusive, credible Haitian government.“It’s up to the Haitians to come up with the solution to this political process at this point, so we rely on them and give them all the support that we can to work conclusively, to work together, to form a consensus government,” Lochman said.She said the United States would like to see elections held in Haiti this year.Haiti’s parliament has been out of session since January 2020 when the terms of most of the legislature expired. Elections have not been held to select new members due to mass protests, the coronavirus pandemic and uncontrolled gang violence.Sandra Lemaire, Nike Ching and VOA Creole contributed to this report. 

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