Political crisis in Haiti could lead to president ruling single-handedly

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Haitian President Jovenel Moise could be ruling by decree later this week, a scenario he said would help break the Caribbean nation's political deadlock but which critics fear will undermine its fragile democracy.


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In the early hours of Monday, the president said the mandates of lower house deputies and most senators formally expired because no successors have were elected in October after the troubled country failed to hold elections.

The power vacuum could deal a significant blow to democratic governance in the poorest country in the Americas, three decades since the end of the dreaded Duvalier family dictatorship.

Moise, however, sees the side-lining of Haitian lawmakers as a positive.

"The current situation is an opportunity to stop the permanent crisis," said Moise, who has come under pressure from months-long street protests and opposition groups to resign or hold early elections.

"The biggest problem Haiti has is the weakness of its public institutions," Moise told Reuters in an interview.

Moise blamed parliament for having failed to approve the electoral law required to hold last year's elections while his opponents accuse him of trying to take control over the country's electoral law.

Haiti has had 15 presidents in the past 33 years

Under his predecessor, Michel Martelly, the Haitian parliament was dissolved in January 2015 when last-ditch negotiations for a deal that would have extended lawmakers' mandates failed.

Martelly ruled by decree until the end of his term.

"Without the opposition, the government seems less legitimate," said Jake Johnston, a senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

"Will he make efforts to work for the whole or will he just pursue his own agenda without checks and balances?"

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