Voting in the second round for the senatorial and parliamentary elections and the first round for a new president in Haiti’s capital Port au Prince, 25 October 2015. Photo: UN/MINUSTAH/Igor Rugwiza
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti was scheduled to hold the second round presidential and second round partial legislative elections on Sunday but on Friday afternoon the country’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced their indefinite postponement, citing security concerns.
The announcement came after a week of intensifying protests, attacks on electoral offices and a growing chorus of voices, both in Haiti and internationally, insisting that the vote be delayed.
Second-place presidential candidate Jude Célestin had vowed to boycott the elections, due to persistent concerns about fraud and vote-buying influence on the October 25 first round of the presidential election. The US and its Core Group allies, on the other hand, had supported the January 24 election date, downplaying concerns of fraud and emphasizing the importance of sticking to a constitutional timetable for a presidential transfer of power on February 7.
Ruling party candidate Jovenel Moise, with 33 percent of the votes, emerged as the front runner in the October poll. Second placed Celestin trailed him by eight percentage points.
With the cancellation of the elections, a transitional government now appears inevitable. Business leaders, government representatives and opposition senators have already begun negotiations over what will happen when President Michel Martelly is constitutionally required to leave office on February 7.
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, many questions remain about a possible provisional authority:
• How long will such a government remain in power?
• How will its members be selected and with what mandate?
• Will the transitional government order an investigation of fraud and irregularities during the August 9 and October 25 elections, as demanded by opposition parties?
• Will a new CEP be appointed to replace the current scandal-plagued council?
The electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (EOM/OAS) in Haiti called on all political stakeholders to engage in a consensual, constructive dialogue to overcome the current political crisis and complete the electoral process.
The mission condemned the acts of violence across the country, including the incidents that have directly affected OAS observers during their deployment.
The mission said it will continue to monitor the situation in Haiti.
The United Nations and its partners in Haiti reiterated their support for the outcome of the electoral process in the country.
In a joint press release, the special representative of the secretary-general in Haiti, Sandra Honoré, and other members of the international community represented in the Core Group (Brazil, Canada, Spain, France, United States, European Union and the Organization of American States) reiterated their “continued support for the conclusion of an inclusive and fair electoral process while supporting efforts to find a solution that ensures the democratic renewal of State institutions.”