Haiti opens debate on proposed constitutional changes

In this October 8, 2019 file photo, entrepreneur and youth leader Pascéus Juvensky St Fleur, 26, holds up his copy of the Haitian constitution during an interview in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo: AP)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti has unveiled multiple proposed changes to overhaul the country’s Constitution that officials plan to present to voters starting this week for an upcoming referendum that looms amid growing unrest.

The public meetings are scheduled to be held across Haiti for the next three weeks, ahead of the April 25 constitutional referendum, which would be the first one held in more than 30 years.

One of the biggest changes is an omission in the draft issued by an independent commission tasked with creating the constitutional changes that have generated heated debates. Haiti’s current Constitution bars presidents from serving two consecutive terms, but the draft only states that a president cannot serve for more than two terms; it says nothing about whether they can be served consecutively.

Human rights attorney Bill O’Neill told The Associated Press that his interpretation is that the omission would allow a president to serve two terms consecutively. He noted that those who drafted the 1987 Constitution currently in use were emerging from a 29-year dictatorship under two so-called “presidents for life”: François Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier.

“The drafters were very wary of allowing anyone having too much unbroken time in the Presidency,” he said.

Read more at: Jamaica Observer

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