RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Haitian electoral authorities announced Monday, June 7, the postponement of the constitutional referendum scheduled for next June 27 due to the upsurge of Covid-19 cases in the country.
The new date of the referendum will be decided based on health authorities’ recommendations, the Provisional Electoral Council announced in a statement.
“This decision is motivated by the difficulties to gather and train all the temporary staff for the realization of the vote,” the statement explained.
Haiti, little affected by Covid-19 last year, has been experiencing since last May the most serious wave of coronavirus infections to date, which has led to an increase in deaths and hospitalizations in a country with a very deficient hospital infrastructure.
The international community widely questions the holding of the referendum since it does not have the support of the opposition or sectors of civil society, such as the catholic church, the business community, or trade unions.
The President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, intended to promote the adoption of a new constitution, considering that the 1987 Constitution is the source of the political instability that Haiti has experienced in the last decades.
The UN, the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union, and countries like the United States have criticized the consultation process for not being sufficiently inclusive.
The opposition has not joined the consultation process on the draft Constitution, written by a group of experts, as it does not recognize Moise’s legitimacy and demands the ruler to step aside from power.
The referendum itself is controversial because the current Constitution expressly forbids any consultation to change the fundamental law.
The draft of the new constitution seeks to give more powers to the president, provides for a unicameral legislature, which implies eliminating the Senate, and stipulates that elections be decided in a single round.
Moise intended to approve the Constitution before holding the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for September 19.
The Provisional Electoral Council has not referred to the election date, even though last Friday, it said it would study the possible postponement of both the referendum and the elections.