Haiti President Jovenel Moise on Tuesday tried to force out three judges who were proposed as potential interim national leaders to replace him in the latest twist of the country’s political crisis.
Moise says his term lasts until February 2022 – but the opposition claims that it should have ended last weekend, in a suspension of disputed elections.
Officials loyal to Moise claimed on Sunday that they had made an attempt to assassinate him and overthrow the government in a coup.
“Yvickel Dieujuste Dabrezil, Wendelle Coq Thelot and Joseph Mecene Jean-Louis, Judges of the Court of Appeal, are retired,” a special overnight issue of the Haitian official newspaper announced.
The decree seemed to violate the constitution and Haitian law.
Jean-Louis said earlier this week that he accepted the role of interim leader to oversee a transfer of power from Moses’ government.
The United States has so far supported Moses’ stance and he seems to have retained control of the Caribbean island nation, which has a long history of instability and deep poverty exacerbated by natural disasters.
But in a statement on Twitter, the US embassy in Port-au-Prince said it was “deeply concerned about any measures that could harm Haiti’s democratic institutions.”
“The executive order is now being scrutinized to determine whether it complies with Haiti’s constitution and laws,” the statement added.
The controversy over when the presidency ends stems from Moise’s original election. He was elected to office in a vote that was subsequently suspended following allegations of fraud and was re-elected a year later, in 2016.