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Jovenel Moise’s assassination: Lessons for African leaders

Jovenel Moïse

The world woke up on Wednesday 7th July, 2021 to receive the shocking news of the brutal murder of President Jovenel Moise of Haiti. A squad of foreign mercenaries was alleged to have carried out the assassination. They also wounded his wife in an overnight raid on their home in Port –Au-Prince, the country’s capital amid growing chaos in a country already enduring gang violence and protests of Moise’s increasingly authoritarian rule.

There are several lessons to be learnt from his death by sit-tight-African leaders and those in the habit of flouting their countries’ laws.

Read Also: Haitian President Jovenel Moïse assassinated

Haiti has a history of violence spurred by bad leadership. Dictatorship and political upheaval have long stymied the consolidation of democratic rule. Right from the era of Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier till date, Haiti has suffered several dictatorships.

Prior to Moise’s death, Haiti was already heading for fresh volatility ahead of general elections later this year. Moïse had been ruling by decree for more than a year after failing to hold elections, and the opposition demanded he stepped down saying he was leading the country toward yet another grim period of authoritarianism.

Under his watch, Haiti’s economic, political and social woes deepened, with gang violence spiking in Port-au-Prince, inflation spiraling, and food and fuel becoming scarcer in a country where 60% of the population makes less than $2 a day. These troubles come as Haiti is still trying to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Opposition leaders accused Moïse of seeking to increase his power, including approving a decree that limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and another that created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president. They therefore demanded that he stepped down, arguing that his term legally ended in February 2021. But Moïse and his supporters maintained that his term began when he took office in early 2017, following a chaotic election that forced the appointment of a provisional president to serve during a year-long gap. Even his plans to hold a constitutional referendum with proposals that would strengthen the presidency was rejected.

Haiti is one of the two countries on the island of Hispaniola. The other country is the Dominican Republic. The original inhabitants were native Americans (mistaken for Indians) known as the Taino and Arawak. They called the island Ayiti from which Haiti is derived from. Christopher Columbus was the first European to come to the island in the late 1400s. Soon after that, Spain, France and other colonial and pirate nations began to struggle for power there.

By the 1600s France was generating incredible untold riches from the island. They would kidnap Africans from Western and central Africa, put them in chains and work them on sugar plantations generating great wealth. Many of the enslaved Africans were kidnapped from the region known today as modern day Nigeria.

In 1791 the enslaved Africans organized themselves, revolted and overpowered the European enslaving rascals to form the first modern independent black nation – the Republic of Haiti in 1804. The Haitians quickly supported human rights struggles and independent liberation movements including Simon Bolivar who liberated many South American countries and in the process destroyed the Spanish empire. Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia and Panama.

Napoleon the great French Army General felt insulted that some black Africans took over their territory and declared war against Haiti. His army was quickly defeated by the Haitians and he lost so much money that he had to sell his US territories of Louisiana to the Americans.

Since they couldn’t defeat Haiti militarily they formed a multi-decade/century long attack on Haiti. They have been interfering with Haiti since the 1800s. Some of their tricks have included American occupations, introduction of smallpox and other diseases, media attacks, Economic blockades and so on. In spite of the entire European nations attack, the Haitians remained strong and steadfast and unbowed

Haiti although close to the United States in the Caribbean Sea, the country applied to join the African union showing their orientation towards the continent. Interestingly, a number of African leaders did not want Haiti to join the AU. The colonial mentality is deep.

Without mincing words, Moise dug his own grave. His refusal to respect the country’s constitution was his greatest undoing. Many other African leaders behave the same way.

While we sympathize with the government and people of Haiti over the death of president Moise, we urge other leaders to learn a lesson from his death. It is important that leaders, especially political leaders, respect their countries constitution. No leader is bigger than his people. If you are elected for a fixed term of office, leave once the term expires. The penchant of a leader wanting to perpetuate himself in office is archaic. That was the problem Moise had with his people and that is the problem many other African leaders are having right now.

Furthermore, we join world leaders to call for an international investigation into the assassination of president Moise and urge the interim government to ensure the elections scheduled for this year are held accordingly.

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