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Public anger rose over Moise’s attempt to retain the presidency

Jovenal Moïse struggled to quell growing public anger over his attempt to retain power, despite the opposition insisting that his term in office had expired.

Mr Moïse had ruled by decree for more than a year. Many, including prominent lawyers, claim his term ended in February. Haiti has been rocked by protests against its rule and has seen gang activity rise as well.

The opposition said Mr Moïse’s five-year term should have ended on February 7th, five years to the day since his predecessor Michel Martelly resigned. When Mr Moïse refused to leave office, thousands of Haitians took to the streets and set fire to rubbish and tires as they called for his resignation.

In response, the government announced the arrest of 23 people, including a chief judge and a senior police officer, who the president said tried to kill him and overthrow the government.

“The goal of these people was to assassinate my life,” said President Moïse at the time. “This plan has been canceled.”

Mr Moïse insisted that he had one year left in office as his term only started a year after the vote that put him at the top on allegations of electoral fraud.

Leonie Hermantin, a Haitian community leader in Miami, said that the people in the diaspora, however divided they are about Mr Moïse, are united by their shock and despair.

“We don’t want to go back to the past when presidents were eliminated by violence,” she said, adding, “There is no one to celebrate.”

The protests this year were part of wider riots in which heavily armed gangs clashed in the streets and attacked police stations.

“While the exact numbers are still unclear, preliminary estimates suggest that thousands of people have fled their homes and sought refuge with host families or settled in informal shelters,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said last Month in a report on the situation.

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