Haiti: Elections are still in suspense

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Source: Noticias Aliadas / The Dawn News / May 21, 2016

Six months after the first round of elections, there is still uncertainty about the presidential elections.

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After being postponed on three different occasions, the second round of the presidential elections in Haiti were put off once again without setting a new date. This was informed on April 18 by Dumel Richardson, spokesman of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), who affirmed that “there is no proper electoral environment in Haiti [to hold the elections]”. With the new postponement, the political and institutional crisis that the Caribbean country has been experiencing since the development of the first electoral round in October 15, 2015, is intensified.

The second round had been initially set for December 27, 2015. It was first postponed until January 17, then until January 24 and finally, after an agreement between the outgoing President, Michel Martelly (2011-2016) and other political forces in the country, it was decided that the presidential elections would be held on April 24.

However, on April 6. Leopold Berlanger, President of the CEP, rejected the proposal and expressed that it was “too soon to set a date” for the second electoral round, and added that they were not going to present an electoral calendar “before the end of May”.

It’s worth remembering that the results of the first round has been qualified as “fraudulent” by many citizens and members of the opposition, especially by supporters of the opposition candidate Jude Celestin, from the Alternative League for Haitian Progress and Empowerment, who came out second in the elections with 25% of the votes, right after Jovenel Moise from the officialist Tèt Kale Haitian Party, who obtained 33%. Social organizations and parties didn’t recognize the results and demanded that a special committee reviewed the elections. President Martelly wanted to go on with the runoff election between Jovenel Moise and Jude Célestin, but Célestin withdrew his candidacy in protest against the conditions, and so the runoff election had to be cancelled.

Failed State

Since its independence from France in 1804, Haiti has only had one general election that was free of arguments, obstacles or electoral delays: the one of 1991, in which the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected. He is considered by many a President who was truly concerned with bettering the lives of the people. However, Aristide was overthrown by a coup d’ état only 8 months after his swearing-in as President of the Republic. In 1994, he was brought back into power and two years later he finished his mandate. Even though he was elected again in 2001, Aristide was deposed for the second time in 2004. He is now forced to live in exile.

Aristide

Due to the crisis that emerged because of the postponement of the second electoral round, Haiti has had two Presidents and three Prime Ministers, and the CEP has changed its composition in two different opportunities after the resignation of six out of its nine members between September 2015 and January 2016.

Martelly finished his mandate on February 7, as the constitution establishes, and he was replaced by the then President of the Senate, Jocelerme Privert, who will remain in office until whoever is chosen in the second electoral round swears in.

Instability and lack of institutionality have caused analysts like Denis Bauchard, from the French Institute of International Relations, consider Haiti as a “Failed State” due to the systematic lack of State structures.

Apart from the ongoing political crisis, Haiti has not recovered from the 2010 earthquake that completely destroyed Port-au-Prince, the capital city. According to official figures of the Haitian government, more than 300,000 people lost their lives and 1,5 millions inhabitants were left unprotected.

At the present time, officially, more than 60,000 people continue living in camps. And, even though there are no longer a myriad of camps outside Port-au-Prince, many basic public services are still non-existent.

The most recent estimations from the Center of Investigation on Post-Quake Living Conditions (ECVMAS), created after the tragedy, holds that in 2012, 59% of the Haitian people were living below the poverty threshold and 24% were in extreme poverty.

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