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Presidential & Parliament Elections - 2016

Haitis presidential runoff was postponed three times because of allegations of fraud that forced the country into a polarizing crisis with violent street protests. Campaigning for Haiti's presidential runoff election began 08 January 2016, with only one candidate participating, government-backed contender Jovenel Moise. The campaign team of the second-place finisher, Jude Celestin said he would take part in the runoff only if sweeping changes recently recommended by a special commission were adopted to improve Haiti's flawed electoral machinery.

Embattled Haitian President Michel Martelly left office 07 February 2016 as required by Haiti's constitution, ending his 5-year term with no one elected to replace him. Ahead of Martelly's departure, the former pop music star told lawmakers in Port-Au-Prince that he is leaving office "to contribute to constitutional normalcy." He then handed the reins of power to the leader of the heavily guarded national assembly, after an 11th hour deal under which lawmakers were expected to choose an interim president to take Martelly's place. Prime Minister Evans Paul was Haiti's temporary leader until the provisional president was chosen.

On 20 March 2016, Haiti's lower chamber rejected a program submitted by Prime Minister Fritz Jean, who only received 38 votes in favor, falling short of the 60 votes required for his appointment. Most of his opponents were supporters of former President Michel Martelly. Just days after the Congress rejected a new interim Prime Minister, on 22 March 2016 interim President Jocelerme Privert named via decree Jean Charles Enex to head the organizing of the presidential runoff vote after a disputed electoral results. This time, Privert took the time to reach a consensus among lawmakers before formally appointing via decree Jean Charles Enex, an experienced lawyer, after a one-day long debate between the different parliamentary groups.

Haiti will hold elections as soon as possible, new interim Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles said on 25 March 2016, but he could not guarantee that an April 24 deadline could be met for the presidential vote that had already been postponed three times. Several thorny issues must be resolved before elections can be held, including demands by parties which lost in the October 2015 first round of the presidential election and which allege the result were fraudulent.

The presidential runoff vote was rescheduled for 24 April. The winner was set to take office by 14 May. The delay has triggered protests by supporters of the front-runner in the presidential elections, Jovenel Moise. He is set to go up against Jude Celestin when the vote is eventually held. Although the April 24 deadline for the election was widely seen as unrealistic, thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand the chance to cast their votes.

On 25 April 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was deeply concerned that the agreed-upon date for holding elections in Haiti 24 April had not been met. That date had been set following an agreement known as the 5 February Agreement between Haitian stakeholders to preserve institutional continuity and further the electoral process.

Interim president Jocelerme Privert said the electorate will probably have to wait until October to cast their votes. Privert said the second round of elections which has already been postponed three times, will likely be staged the same time as the Senate elections on 30 October 2016.

On 14 May 2016 the United Nations Security Council has expressed its deep disappointment that Haitian actors failed to meet the election and inauguration deadlines agreed upon in the February political accord, calling on all actors to ensure the prompt return to constitutional order. In a statement, the Council welcomed, however, the reconstitution of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and noted the establishment of a commission to evaluate and verify the elections held in 2015, stressing the need for the commission to be technical, a-political, transparent and complete its work within its 30-day mandate.

The Independent Commission of Evaluation and Electoral Verification [CIEVE] on 31 May 2016 found that 99% of the electoral process was fraudulent. The Commission found that the October 25 first-round presidential vote was plagued by irregularities and a high presumption of fraud. The Commission recommended sweeping changes to the electoral machine, including a new nine-member electoral body. CIEVE recommended a do-over, also including legislative and local elections.

At the 01 June 2016 daily press briefing, the spokesman for the State Department John Kirby responding to a question on the position of the US Government, following the recommendation of the Independent Commission of Evaluation and Electoral Verification (CIEVE) to cancel the first round of the presidential election in Haiti. "As weve said before, the Haitian people deserve to have their voices heard and their needs met through a democratically elected president. We continue to believe that they urgently need to complete this process with a democratically elected government to address the challenges that Haiti continues to face. We urge the provisional electoral council to publish on June 6th, if not sooner, the revised electoral calendar establishing a date for prompt installation of the president-elect. Although this is a Haitian-led process, the longer it takes for Haiti to have a democratically elected president, the longer its going to take for the United States to consider new elements of partnership in helping Haiti confront the mounting economic, climate, and health challenges that they continue to face today."

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) of Leopold Berlanger, on 06 June 2016, announced a do-over first round of presidential elections for October 9, 2016 and a second round on January 8, instead of fixing a date for the holding of the second round of the 2015 election between Jovenel Mose (PHTK) and Celestin (LAPEH) according to final results published. These recommendations come after the international community coughed up more than $70 million to organize the new elections.

Several hundred supporters of former President Michel Martellys Haitian Tet Kale Party protested 08 June 2016 in Port-au-Prince after the results of last years election were nixed. The European Union announced 08 June 2016 that that it was leaving Haiti and ending its election observation mission because it disagreed with the countrys decision to nullify and redo the 2015 elections. The European Commission Vice President, Federica Mogherini, said the conditions were not met for the continuation of its activities in Haiti. In a separate statement, the head of the observation mission, Elena Valenciano, said the work of Haitis independent commission had many factual, legal, methodological and conceptual weakness.

Interim president Jocelerme Privert succeeded Michel Martelly when he stepped down without a successor in February 2016. Priverts term was scheduled to end 14 June 2016. Privert said he will stay in office until 2017 to transfer power to an elected president unless parliament rules otherwise. The majority of support Privert enjoyed in the Senate would make his departure by legislative vote difficult to obtain. But some members of the Chamber of Deputies, the Lower House of the Legislature, approached June 14 as a day where the term of the Provisional Head of State ends, with or without a vote.

On 07 July 2016 the US Government announced it had suspended its assistance toward completion of the presidential electoral process there, though it made notification to government officials in Haiti on 01 July 2016. The US had provided over $30 million in assistance to the 2015 Haiti electoral cycle, and did not plan funding for two more electoral rounds in 2016-2017, per the revised electoral calendar. Suspension of US electoral financial assistance did not signal a reduction in US support for the people or development of Haiti; rather, it enabled the United States to retain vital humanitarian and development programs that help ordinary Haitians improve their lives.

There are 27 presidential candidates contesting the election and only three of them had a chance to become the nation's next leader.

  1. The front-runner is Jovenel Moise, the 47-year-old candidate of current President Michel Martellys Parti Haitien Tet Kale (PHTK). He was born in the countryside of Haiti from a modest family of farmers, and studied Educational Sciences in the capital Port au Prince, succeeding as a businessman in the banana industry. He promised to revive agriculture in Haiti and improve education, he also aims to put Haiti on the financial map by improving tourism and exports. Another proposal was to improve security and strengthen justice to restore the rule of law. He advocated food sustainability with the implementation of 570 greenhouses through the country.
  2. Second place in the presidential race is held by Jude Celestin from the opposition League for Progress and Haitian Emancipation (LAPEH). This was the second time that the 53-year-old engineer is running for president. He was the runner-up in the 2010 presidential elections and although he had been absent in politics for the past five years, he enjoyed great popularity among Haitians. Celestine is largely supported by former President Rene Preval and has claimed that if elected, his government would give priority to job creation, rationalization of government expenditure and the fight against corruption. It was necessary, he said, to find ways to harmonize relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, referring to the diplomatic tensions between the neighboring nations over the new Dominican immigration law, which threatens to deport hundreds of thousands of Haitians, including children born in the republic to undocumented parents.
  3. All polls place former senator and opposition leader Moise Jean-Charles in third place. He represents the platform "Pitit Dessalines," which refers to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who was a leader of the Haitian Revolution and the first emperor of independent Haiti (18041806). The 48-year-old politician said in multiple campaign events that Dessalines started the "political revolution," and that he will start the "economic revolution" in Haiti. If elected, he has pledged to create a new economy based on domestic production and massive investment in agriculture to fight the extreme poverty plaguing Haiti.

On 05 October 2016 Haiti postponed the planned rerun presidential and legislative elections for the fourth time - in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The move came a year of violent protests, allegations of voter fraud, and three postponed presidential elections. The countrys Provisional Electoral Council, or CEP President Leopold Berlanger, said a new date could come by Oct. 12. The elections body needed to evaluate the damage and assess its ability to transport voting materials to the hardest hit areas. Haiti announced 14 October 2016 that its long-delayed presidential and legislative elections would be held Nov. 20, after a delay caused by Hurricane Matthew, which killed hundreds of people in the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation this month. The Provisional Electoral Council said the second round of elections was scheduled for Jan. 29.

Haiti went ahead with its rescheduled national elections 20 November 2016. Voting was delayed after Hurricane Matthew ravaged the Caribbean state in October 2016. Six million Haitians are eligible to vote for one of 27 presidential candidates, as well for members of both houses of parliament. There was no clear-cut leader among the 27 candidates for president. They include: Jovenel Moise, a plantation owner, chosen by the ruling PHTK ("the Bald Heads Party") and former President Michel Martelly; Jude Celestin of the LAPEH Party, who was runner-up in the 2015 ballot that subsequently was canceled; and Maryse Narcisse, one of two women on the ballot, who was a spokeswoman for former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He has endorsed Narcisse and encouraged his supporters to take to the streets in protest if her candidacy fails.

Two of Haiti's biggest parties stoked tension on 22 November 2016 by claiming victory for their candidates in a long-delayed presidential election. Martelly's PHTK party declared a win. According to PHTK spokesman Rudy Herivaux, apparently citing unconfirmed partial figures, not only did Moise win the first round vote but he secured more than 50 percent and avoided a run-off. Not to be outdone, supporters of the opposition Fanmi Lavalas the party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide also declared victory for their candidate Maryse Narcisse.

Haitian businessman Jovenel Moise, the candidate backed by former president Michel Martelly, won the presidential vote in the first round, official early results showed 28 November 2016. Provisional Electoral Council chief Uder Antoine said Moise came ahead of Jude Celestin, candidate of the opposition LAPEH, scoring 55.67 percent against 19.52 percent. Moise Jean Charles got 11.04 percent and Maryse Narcisse 8.99 percent. Any candidate who wins more than half of the votes cast is considered the victor.

Runoff votes would be necessary in many cases. With so many candidates for president, no one is likely to gain an absolute majority of the vote, or reach a 25 percent plurality over the second-ranking candidate. The top two finishers would face off 29 January 2017, with the winner to be sworn into office for a five-year term eight days later. Jocelerme Privert, chosen to be Haiti's interim president in February, has remained in power even though his mandate expired five months ago. He is expected to remain in charge of the government until the next president is chosen.

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Page last modified: 29-11-2016 15:08:43 ZULU