The presidential election in Haiti was postponed indefinitely due to recent violent protests and government fraud. The election was originally set for Dec. 27, 2015, then pushed to Jan. 24, 2016 and finally canceled without a new date announced.
The eight Haitian presidential candidates refused to participate because of the irregularities that occurred in the first round of elections. An official audit including 78 tally sheets from the first round of presidential elections found irregularities in all sheets, the Hill reports. Haiti’s electoral council, the CEP, did not conduct a further investigation.
The irregularities in the electoral process include Jovenel Moise, President Michel Martelly’s chosen successor, being reported to the CEP as being in first place in the election but an exit poll found that only six percent of respondents voted for him, according to the Hill. This, along with many other examples of government-backed fraud has instigated Haitians to respond with violence.
In a poll executed in October 2015 by an independent research group in Brazil, 82 percent of Haitians agreed with the statement: “As far as I can see, this election is fair, there is no fraud,” the Hill reports. However, when the same poll was conducted after the irregularities came out, almost 90 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement.
According to the Hill, the United States, the U.N. and the Organization of American States are pushing for presidential elections to take place as soon as possible so that Haiti can reestablish order. Though filling the presidential position is desired, it could also be perceived as a positive that Haiti now has more time for the election. More time to select a proper candidate would allow Haiti to restore faith in the electoral process.
Fortunately, lawmakers chose the country’s Senate leader, Jocelerme Privert, as provisional President of Haiti on Feb. 14, 2016, as reported by the New York Times. Privert’s chief task will be to smooth political divisions that have left the people of Haiti without an elected president properly chosen by the voters themselves.
Privert is also working on how and when to go about the formal presidential election and has said they will be held as soon as possible. Former President Martelly departed from office as well, as he was barred from a consecutive term. Privert’s leadership and Martelly’s departure will hopefully help in easing violent outbreaks and tensions.
– Kerri Whelan