Haiti: Upcoming Elections are Being Seriously Questioned by the People

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By: Luis Verissimo / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / September 17, 2016.

Demonstrators chant anti-electoral council slogans during a protest against the country's electoral council to mark the 25th anniversary of first democratic election in 1990, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Disputed election results have brought a renewed surge of paralyzing street protests and many broad accusations of electoral fraud from civil society and opposition groups that it is not clear whether a Dec. 27 presidential runoff between the top two finishers can take place as scheduled. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Demonstrators chant anti-electoral council slogans during a protest against the country’s electoral council to mark the 25th anniversary of first democratic election in 1990, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Disputed election results have brought a renewed surge of paralyzing street protests and many broad accusations of electoral fraud from civil society and opposition groups that it is not clear whether a Dec. 27 presidential runoff between the top two finishers can take place as scheduled. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

 

On October 9th, new Presidential elections will take place in Haiti. 27 candidates will contend, of which only four have real chances of winning.

Since the beginning of the electoral process on August 9, which opened with the Parliamentary elections, the country has been going through an institutional crisis, full of irregularities and frauds linked to the parties that support former President Michel Martelly.

During this period of time, people took to the street in massive protests to demand guarantees for the democratic order. Due to the great popular pressure, in January the government backtracked and canceled the second round, which had been scheduled for the same month and was a runoff between the government candidate Jovenel Moise (PHTK) and the opposition candidate, Jude Celestin (LAPEH).

After the suspension of the elections to renew the presidential seat, on July 2, Martelly’s mandate came to an end and the country remained without a President for more that 20 days. During that time, the Congress appointed the Head of the Senate, Jocelerme Privert, to take office for 120 days. Privert, who was a member of the opposition, took office promising to redesign the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and give way to the electoral process. To that end, he convened a special commission to assess what had happened during the elections and this commission in turn requested the holding of new presidential elections.

Given the great popular pressure and the guidelines issued by the commission, the CEP cancelled the presidential elections that were supposed to take place on October 2015 and called for a new elections on October 9, 2016, with the same 54 candidates that had competed before. During this process, many candidates formed alliances and, finally, 27 of them will participate. According to the analysis, only four of them have a real chance of winning: Moise Jovenel (PHTK), Jude Celestin (LAPEH), Moise Jean Charles (Pitit Dessalines) and Maryse Narcisse (Fanmi Lavalas).

Jovenel Moise is a businessman. He was not very publicly known until last year when President Martelly presented him to the public as his candidate. He owns a vast portion of Haitian lands, in which he produces organic bananas for exportation, mostly destined to the German market. On the October 25 elections, he came in first, with nearly 35% of the votes. Now, some studies said he obtained between 35% and 40% of the votes.

Jude Celestin ended up in the second place in the 2010 elections and was taken out of the second electoral round to be replaced by Martelly, as the U.S. requested.  Mysteriously, he hardly ever expressed any opinion about what happened in 2010. Now, he is also one of the favorites to take the President’s seat. He has the support of former President Préval and most of the former presidential candidates that drop out of the election process. On the October elections last year, he won second place with 26% of the votes, although some researchers now indicate that he came out first, with 30% of the votes.

Former Senator Moise Jean Charles is the candidate of the left. During his campaign one his main axes was criticizing the US intervention on Haitian territory. He is considered to be the people’s candidate and he has a real chance of winning if popular participation in the polls increases. Many of his supporters have expressed that they don’t trust the process due to the enormous amount of fraud and, as voting is not mandatory, they will probably not attend the polls. It’s worth remembering that both in the August as in the October 2015 elections, only 10% of the electoral register participated. The former legislator is now publicly known and has gain popularity due to his participation in the campaign against the MINUSTAH and for being a notorious opositor to Martelly’s government. He studied in Cuba and participated in meetings of the  Florestan Fernandes National School in Brazil. He has even hosted internationalist brigades from the MST in his house.

Maryse Narcisse is a doctor. She is the candidate supported by former President Aristide, even though he has not being a notorious figure in the campaign. According to the reports, if the former leader doesn’t participate in the campaign, Mayse has little chance of winning. Since his first public appearances with the candidate in the new pre electoral process, more than 60 thousand people joined a march in Pétionville, a middle-class Haitian city, located in the metropolitan region of Port-au-Prince.

Social movements continue denouncing irregularities at the polls, demanding that the whole electoral process is cancelled; not only the presidential elections, but also the election of Deputies, Senators and Mayors. Furthermore, they also criticize the absence of women in the Parliament, because all Haitian Deputies and Senators are men and more than 80% of them are businessmen.

They also questioned the funding of the electoral process, because the 44 million dollars that are going to be used for this aim come from the U.S. and private Banks: and the pressures of the international community who intends, by all means, to impose the presidential election even if they are fraudulent. As for the OAS, who named the Uruguayan Juan Raúl Ferreira and stated that the elections need to be held no matter what, or in the more than 15 electoral observation missions carried out by the OAS since 1990, which in most cases, lacked citizen participation.

And, lastly, they want the complete reformulation of the CEP, with a new electoral law that assures public founding of the campaigns and of the whole electoral process and that allows the participation of peasants and women in all instances.

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