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2021 Haitian constitutional referendum

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

"We wonder why the 2021 Haitian constitutional referendum does not have Haitian Creole as a national language?"


A constitutional referendum will be held in Haiti on 25 April 2021. It will be the first referendum in the country since 1987 and was unilaterally proposed by the administration of Jovenel Moïse.

Haiti's Constitution explicitly prohibits modification of the constitutional text by referendum; the text of Article 284.3 reads as follows: general elections to amend the Constitution by referendum are strictly forbidden.

Background

In the absence of a Constitutional Council, a Permanent Electoral Council, and a functioning Senate, there is ambiguity as to the end of President Jovenel Moïse's term of office. While he believes that his term ends on February 7, 2022, having been elected in 2016, the opposition and civil society groups - including Haiti's Conseil Supérieur du Pouvoir Judiciaire (CSPJ) and Federation of Haitian Bar associations - say the term ended February 7, 2021. On that day, the Supreme Council of the Judiciary declared the end of Moses' term, while the government announced that it had foiled an attempted coup. The next day, the opposition announced that it would appoint Judge Joseph Mécène Jean-Louis as interim president for a two-year transition period, alongside the drafting of a new Constitution during a period of a national conference.



Proposed changes

  • Abolition of the Senate and creation of a unicameral legislature

  • Abolition of the post of Prime Minister (thereby changing from a semi-presidential system to a full presidential system of government)

  • Modification of the electoral system for presidential elections, changing from a two-round system to one held in one round under first-past-the-post voting

  • Modification of the presidential term limit, allowing two consecutive five-year terms (changed from requiring a five-year interval before being eligible to serve again for a final term)

References



AND WHAT ABOUT THE Constitution amendment procedure?


TITLE XIII: Amendments to the Constitution


Article 282 On the recommendation, with the reason given to support it, of one of the two (2) Chambers or of the Executive Power, the Legislature may declare that the Constitution should be amended.


Article 282-1 This declaration must be supported by two-thirds (2/3) of each of the two (2) Chambers. It may be made only in the course of the last Regular Session of the Legislative period and shall be published immediately throughout the territory.


Article 283 At the first session of the following legislature period, the Chambers shall meet in a National Assembly and decide on the proposed amendment.


Article 284 The National Assembly may not sit or deliberate on the amendment unless at least two-thirds (2/3) of the members of each of the two (2) Chambers are present.


Article 284-1 No decision of the National Assembly may be taken without a majority of two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast.


Article 284-2 The amendment passed may enter into effect only after the installation of the next elected President. In no case may the President under the Government that approved the amendment benefit from any advantages deriving there from.


Article 284-3 General elections to amend the Constitution by referendum are strictly forbidden. • Unamendable provisions


Article 284-4 No amendment to the Constitution may affect the democratic and republican nature of the State.

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