President Jovenel Moïse broke his silence Tuesday and said it would be irresponsible for him to resign amid Haiti’s unrest, which has entered a fifth week of deadly protests that have paralyzed the economy and shuttered schools.
Moïse said during a surprise news conference at the National Palace that he was constitutionally elected and would relinquish power only through a legal process like elections.
His speech was directed in part at thousands of protesters angry over corruption, inflation that has hit nearly 20 per cent and the dwindling of basic supplies including gasoline. Joining the call for the president’s resignation are business groups, church leaders and human rights organisations.
Moïse reiterated that he is open to any negotiations leading to a peaceful resolution of the political crisis, saying that the opposition should agree to a dialogue with his government to address the country’s problems.
“However long it takes, I am ready for dialogue. We don’t want to have another 1986,” Moïse said, referring to the year that then President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier fled Haiti following lengthy demonstrations against his regime.
During his speech, Moïse said Haiti is “worse off” than it was from 2004 to 2015, the years following the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Opposition leaders immediately rejected Moïse’s bid for talks, saying his offer was “not credible” as they called for more street protests to force his resignation.