Haiti Marks Independence on Jan. 1, But President Absent from Celebration

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti commemorated the 216th anniversary of its Independence on Jan. 1.

Moise flag1Moise was a no-show.However, the French-speaking Caribbean nation remained in political turmoil leading up to the commemoration, with President Jovenel Moise under pressure to step down after facing accusations of corruption.

Moise announced he would not travel to d’armes of Gonaïves to join Independence celebrations, according to a senior aide. Opposition parties have been staging demonstrations throughout the year calling on Moise to step down from office and had been planning similar action for Gonaives to celebrate Independence Day with a “patriotic vigil” and a ceremony in memory of activists who died during the anti-government protests.

Jean-Osner Amisial, the departmental delegate of Artibonite, said in order to avoid confrontation, Moise “would have” decided not to go to Gonaïves on Jan. 1 and that he would make his address to the nation from the National Palace.

CONFRONTATION

Speaking on a radio program here on Dec. 30, Jules Charles Faustin, a political advisor to Moise, told listeners that “Jan. 1 is a national holiday that deserves to be celebrated throughout … (and) this is not the time to enter into confrontations.”

Faustin said there was no law in the Constitution that would force the Haiti’s head of state to celebrate the country’s Independence at historical sites, recalling that during his second term in office former President Rene Préval did not, for example, go to Vertières on Nov. 18, in celebration of the decisive victory over the French in the Battle of Vertières in 1803.

Faustin insisted that Moise’s decision not to visit Gonaives on Jan. 1 was not out of fear or weakness, noting that the president had visited the area on Dec. 14 and 28.

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