Opposition groups in Haiti, including the Secteur Democratique et Populaire, plan to hold several nationwide protests starting Jan. 15 and continuing through at least early February. The protests aim to denounce the country's recently announced electoral calendar and demand President Jovenal Moise step down by Feb. 7. Demonstrations have specifically been called for Jan. 15 and 20; organizers have also called for the start of spontaneous demonstrations from Jan. 22 and the start of a nationwide civil disobedience campaign, including protest blockades, from Feb. 1. Given there is no evidence to suggest that Moise will step down by Feb. 7, the protests are highly likely to persist.
As with most opposition protests in Haiti, the exact details on the times and locations of the gatherings have not been disclosed. The largest protests are likely to center on Port-au-Prince. Flashpoints for protests in the capital include Rue Champs de Mars, Palais National, and Parliament, as well as Delmas, Petion-Ville, and the Pelerin 5 area, where the president resides. Protests outside the US Embassy have also become more common.
Police will probably deploy in force near all large protests, especially in Port-au-Prince. The protests carry an elevated threat of clashes. Protesters could attempt to block roads, burn vehicles, and vandalize private businesses during any protests that materialize.
According to the electoral calendar published by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), a controversial constitutional referendum will take place April 25, and the first round of the presidential and legislative will be held Sept. 19, with the second round scheduled for Nov. 21, along with the local and municipal polls. Opposition groups argue that Moise's term constitutionally ends in February 2021, and not February 2022, as maintained by Moise and which would be supported by the CEP's electoral calendar. Some opponents of Moise have further argued that the constitutional referendum called for by the president, who has been ruling by decree since January 2020, is illegal. Given that it is highly unlikely that Moise will step down before the elections are held and that Haiti's election periods are known to be marred by violence and political instability, there is a possibility that the security situation could further worsen over the coming months. The protests will also be fueled by Haiti's severe economic crisis, ongoing fuel shortages, and general insecurity.
Avoid all protests; shelter in place if unrest occurs nearby. Monitor local media for information regarding protest activity and road closures, especially in Port-au-Prince. Do not attempt to pass through roadblocks; wait for authorities to remove them. Confirm all business appointments.
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