What is Happening with Haiti’s Delayed Presidential ElectionsThe 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

Sources: The Hill, NY Times
Photo: Flickr

Dominican_Law_Strips_Citizenship_and_ Human Rights
Thousands of residents in the Dominican Republic are now nationless, thanks to a new law passed by the country’s Constitutional Court, stripping Dominican-born children of Haitian migrants of their Dominican citizenship. This new Dominican law has experts warning that a human rights crisis may ensue. The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council has also gotten involved.

“We are extremely concerned that a ruling of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court may deprive tens of thousands of people of nationality, virtually all of them of Haitian descent, and have a very negative impact on their rights,” spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, was quoted telling reporters in Geneva.

More specifically, the law forbids Dominican nationality to children of illegal immigrants who have been in the country since 1929, because their parents are labeled as being “in transit.” According to a UN study, there are approximately 210,000 Dominican-born individuals of Haitian descent currently living in the Dominican Republic. This will cause people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic to be denied access to government services and place them in a position of constitutional limbo. The Dominican law presents a possibility for further discrimination and statelessness, since the majority of them do not hold Haitian citizenship.

Until 2010, the Dominican Republic automatically granted citizenship to all individuals born in the country. However, a constitutional change in 2010 claimed that citizenship would only be bestowed upon individuals born in the country to at least one parent of Dominican blood or foreign parents who are legal citizens.

The tension between the two nations, who share the island of Hispaniola, has been going on for centuries. Wars and massacres have occurred between the two, and despite the Dominican Republic’s aid donations to its neighbor after the 2010 earthquake which cooled some of the tension, the Caribbean nations’ conflicts have started again with this law, which is final and cannot be appealed.

Advocacy groups have been protesting, highlighting the fact that the law only propagates the sense of racism practiced towards black Haitians who have settled in the Dominican Republic. Experts have also been saying that the legal change is part of an effort to limit the number of Haitian immigrants into the Dominican Republic and instead promote self-deportation for Haitians already living there. In fact, Dominican politicians have feared the “Haitianization” of the country for well over a century, as more and more Haitians migrated to the Dominican Republic to escape the devastation in Haiti.

The Dominican electoral commission has been given one year to produce a list of people to be excluded from citizenship or stripped of it if they already hold it. The government also promised to present a path to obtaining Dominican citizenship for migrants, but gave no further details on how it would work or who would be eligible.

– Elisha-Kim Desmangles
Feature Writer

Sources: Washington Post, NBC Latino, UN News Centre
Photo: NBC Latino