Port-au-Prince, Feb 7 (efe-epa).- The president of Haiti said Sunday that a coup attempt against him had been foiled, as the opposition called for him to step down.
Jovenel Moïse, who insists his term ends next year, said that a judge of the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) and about 20 people allegedly conspired to replace him.
“I thank my head of security at the palace. The goal of these people was to make an attempt on my life. That plan was aborted,” the leader said before flying from the capital to Jacmel to take part in the Carnival.
Judge Ivickel Dabrésil of the top court was arrested on Saturday, as was Police Inspector General Marie Louise Gauthier, and about 20 other people.
“The judge has made a plot to stage a coup d’état to destabilize the country,” Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent said Sunday at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe and other officials.
The opposition had been talking for weeks about their plans for a transition period after Moïse’s eventual resignation and Judge Dabrésil was one of those indicated to occupy the presidency on an interim basis.
Several opposition political parties and organizations condemned the “illegal arrests” made since Saturday.
In a message to the nation recorded and broadcast on his social media accounts on Sunday evening, Moïse reaffirmed that he will not resign and instead urged the opposition to engage in dialog.
Moïse stressed that he had 364 days left in power and that there would be no transition.
The ruler, however, admitted to having failed in the goal to stabilize the nation, though he blamed “all the ills of the country” on the “criminal mafia within the State” and the “corrupt oligarchs,” whom he promised to continue tackling.
Meanwhile, the opposition staged protests in Port-au-Prince and other Haitian cities, in which hundreds of people took part and were dispersed by police.
In the capital, there were scenes of violence, burning barricades and stone-throwing, while the police used tear gas and, in some cases, to live ammunition.
The latest major Haitian body to join in the claims that Moïse has already fulfilled his mandate is the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, which said his tenure ended on Sunday.
However, the Senate failed to reach a consensus on a position in favor or against the continuity of Moïse, despite the fact that the president of the upper house, Joseph Lamoute, reiterated on Sunday that he defends the “scrupulous” implementation of Article 134.2 of the Constitution.
This article supports the opposition’s theory that Moïse’s term expired on Sunday since it provides for a shortening of the presidential term in the event of delays in the counting of votes in the elections.
This situation, according to them, is in line with what happened with the annulment of the 2015 elections, which were repeated in 2016.
In the year ahead, the Haitian president intends to approve a new Constitution, for which he has called for a referendum in April.
Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled to be held in September, according to the electoral calendar.
Moïse has the backing of the United States and the Organization of American States (OAS) for these plans.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Friday that “a new elected president should succeed President Moise when his term ends on February 7, 2022.” EFE-EPA