The first 100 days of an administration in office usually gives an indication into how the remaining terms of that administration will be. And it is the same for the relatively new Haitian government headed by President Jovenel Moise and Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant.
May 18, 2017, marked 100 days since Jovenel Moise had been sworn in as the President of Haiti; coincidentally, May 18th also marked the 214 years anniversary of the Haitian flag creation. As per tradition, the President and the first lady Martine Moise, together with representatives of the Parliament, the Judiciary, the National Police, the diplomatic corps, representatives of major international organizations working in Haiti, regular citizens, all assisted at a mass at the Saint Peter Church in the City of Archaie, the birth place of the flag; celebrating this historic moment. "You have freed us from the chains of slavery and the ignominy of colonization. You have taught the world the sense of freedom and you have given the declaration of human rights its universal dimension. " Said President Jovenel Moise, who measured with serenity the immense challenges facing the Republic of Haiti in this particular historical context. We will have to determine the capacities to be taken or to be maintained over the next 25 years in the fields of health, education, spatial planning, agricultural development, environment, energy and Justice, "said the President of the Republic before continuing:" We can no longer afford division on these subjects essential for the country. " continued the President.
On the occasion of the President's 100 days in office, we are going to also take a close look at the President's election; what policies or decisive actions he has undertaken thus far to keep his campaign promises to the Haitian people who are expecting so much from him; his foreign policies, national security as well as other issues that have affected his young presidency.
Jovenel Moise's Election
Despite all the electoral controversies that surrounded Jovenel Moise and his mentor Michel Martelly, and the complete division among the opposition, candidate Moise, a businessman, didn't lose his central message of reviving Haiti's agricultural sector. Promising to use the " land, the sun, the river and the people" to reduce imports by encouraging and investing in local production to grow the economy and essentially bring down the high unemployment rate among the youth.
While Jovenel Moise enjoyed the support of former president Michel Martelly who himself still enjoyed high support of his base, the elites and the international community who had stick by Martelly’s side despite all his misdeeds, Moise won the historic November 20th, 2016 Presidential election on his own merit, even though the level of participation was a little over 20%. The result of the Haitian people losing faith in their leaders over the years.
After the electoral court rejected the challenge of the results by the three main opposition candidates, (Jude Celestin, Moise Jean Charles, Maryse Narcisse) and confirmed Jovenel Moise as the winner, it was a big sigh of relief, finally, after more than two years of political crisis, Haiti finally got the chance to take a pause and focus on issues that matter the most. Issues on which the new president had campaigned on.
However a stunning report of the Central Unity of Financial Information (UCREF) on the financial transactions of the President-elect was leaked to the media and slowed down his momentum coming into office, the leaked official report concluded that the incoming president through a local bank account laundered money. These stunning allegations continues to be on the news after the President made the mistake of firing the UCREF Director, Sonel Jean Francois two weeks ago.
Day 1 in office
Jovenel Moise was sworn in as the 58th President of Haiti on february 7th, 2017, in a modest ceremony. The President had instructed the inauguration team to ensure that the official ceremony costs do not exceed $1 million.
President Moise laid out a very hopeful vision for Haiti in his inaugural speech, with passion the President reiterated the development of agriculture, his specialty. Before getting into politics, he implemented a large scale of banana exporting business, bringing Haiti back on the map of Banana exporting countries after more than 50 years, propelling him on the national stage. The President was aware of the seemingly endless challenges that awaited him, but he promised to work hard and do all that he can to meet the expectations of the Haitian people during his 5 years’ mandate.
Following his inauguration as President, Jovenel Moise embarked on a national tour of agro-businesses, pledging the support of his administration to entrepreneurs involved in agriculture. President Moise also visited many lands which he deemed were worthy of rehabilitation for agricultural production. Through an ambitious plan named "Caravan of Change" the President has already begun to mobilize all resources of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Center of National Equipment to rehabilitate more than 65.000 ha. of lands in the Artibonite Valley region, where the majority of the local rice is produced. The President understands how reviving the rice production in the Artibonite valley, which right now has an annual output of 100.000 tons, would lift a heavy burden on the economy, since Haiti imports more than 400.000 tons of this main staples every year. Savings from the importation of rice would remain and be spent locally.
The Haitian President has a really good chance of reversing the course of Haiti being one of the largest rice exporting countries in the world. If he’s successful, it would be a monumental first step of really reviving the economy; Haiti imports some than $10 billion worth of basic, everyday commodities annually mostly from the Dominican Republic, of which Haiti is the second most important economic partner; the United States, Canada and increasingly China.
For the President to be successful however he would need to remain focus on his message and hard work in the agricultural sector by staying away from the bad cartel of Michel Martelly which had infiltrated the government, the likes of Andy Rene, Ralph Pereira, Wilson Laleau, Yolette Mengual or any other people likely to bring scandals to his administration and have his essential message drown in the press and tarnish his government’s reputation.
Day 50 in office: National Security and Foreign Policy
The President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, became the first foreign head of State to visit the Haitian President; on his first 50 days in office. President Bachelet's visit came following the decision of the United Nations to end its 13 years peacekeeping operations in the country; Bachelet wanted to personally congratulate the hard work of the Chilean contingent. The end of the United Nations peacekeeping operations in Haiti (MINUSTAH) represents a very significant security challenge for the Haitian President. Four the past thirteen years, MINUSTAH along the National Police has been responsible for keeping the volatile political climate from degenerating in to destabilization; while the Haitian National Police (PNH) is now over 10.000 strong and has shown the "capacity to manage complex situation", as per the UN Secretary's Special Representative, Sandra Honore's own words the fear of the National Police being politicized, cannot be underestimated.
Jovenel Moise for his short time in office, has already taken many significant steps in shaping Haiti’s new foreign policy. The most notable being the vote against the implementation of sanctions against Venezuela at the OAS special meeting on the political crisis in the Bolivarian republic, despite a warning by American Senator Marco Rubio, who had urged Haiti to vote for the resolution or possibly lose Washington's aid. The Haitian stand against the sanctions was expected, but the strong language which the Haitian ambassador at the OAS, Jean Victor Harvel Jean Baptiste subsequently used to condemned the process as well as the Secretary General, who had previously shown support for then Presidential candidate Jovenel Moise during Haiti's own political crisis, months ago, was not only very surprising, but signaled that Moise would defend Haiti's own interest when it comes to foreign policy. Haiti is supplied by Venezuelan oil at preferential terms under the PetroCaribe accord. The strong stance at the OAS was also a way of President Jovenel Moise to sends strong signal to his base at home, but to his critics as well who value the historic relationships between Haiti and Venezuela.
In : Op-ed