Haiti’s opposition-promoted protests increase chances of government change over coming year; delays to legislative elections likely

29 November 2018

Protesters and pedestrians flee tear gas thrown by the Haitian police during a march through the streets of Port-au-Prince, on 23 November 2018, to demand the resignation of the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse. Source: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • There have been violent confrontations with demonstrators, who threw sticks and stones, and the police used tear gas and water cannons; shootings have also been reported. At least 11 people have died, and many have been injured.
  • Legislative elections are scheduled for October 2019, but these are likely to be delayed, increasing the risk of having a non-functional parliament.
  • The likelihood of President Jovenel Moïse stepping down over the coming year is increasing; this is the second wave of disruptive protests he has faced, this time against a more organised opposition and civil society organisations. Should he step down, a transitional government is likely to be put in place, generating a power vacuum and policy paralysis.


On 23 November 2018, thousands of demonstrators staged nationwide protests in Haiti to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.

This followed weeks of anti-government and anti-corruption protests over the alleged misuse of funds from the Venezuela-led scheme, Petrocaribe, during the tenure of Presidents René Préval and Michel Martelly (2008-16). This new wave of protests started on 18 November, and involved confrontations between demonstrators and the police, with demonstrators throwing sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails, erecting barricades using burning tyres, as well as attempting to loot stores and burning parked vehicles. The police used tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds and several shootings have also been reported. At least 11 people have died, and many have been injured.

In addition, on 24 November there were shootings in Malpasse, at the border with the Dominican Republic, between civilians and the police, that ended with six Haitians dead including four police officers, and arson attacks that targeted customs and police facilities. These events came at the same time of a related a three-day general strike which paralysed all services, including schools, public offices, commerce, and transport.

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