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Haiti Politics - 2019 Election

Following several retreats on electoral reform, the Citizen Observatory for the Institutionalization of Democracy (OCID) presents a new diagnosis of the Haitian electoral system with numerous recommendations in view of carrying out an in-depth reform. This new argument for advocacy for electoral reform, submitted to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) was the subject of a Citizen Consultation Workshop in Port-au-Prince on June 13, 2018. It will then be introduced to political actors and civil society in several provincial towns, including Cap-Hatien, Gonaves, Les Cayes and Jrmie.

In the draft budget law 2018-2019, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has a total envelope of just over 651 million gourdes for its operation confirmed Leopold Berlanger, the President of the CEP, who wishes a upward adjustment so that it can finally pay on time, the salaries of the staff of the Departmental Electoral Offices (BED) and the Municipal Electoral Offices (BEC).

Despite the fact that the 3 powers have still not managed to appoint their representatives for the future Permanent Electoral Council (CEP), by Septebmer 2018 the current Provisional Council had begun preparations for the parliamentary elections to be held in October 2019 for the renewal of the third of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

"With or without the Permanent Electoral Council, legislative elections will take place in October 2019," said Rnald Lubrice, the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, noting that the Government did not intend to miss this election.

Moreover, Ambassador Michle Jeanne Sison already met on May 3 with Leopold Berlanger and Executive Director Uder Antoine on the planning, administration and budget of these elections. Berlanger said his CEP had already had other meetings with international partners involved in organizing the elections in Haiti as well as President Mose and other members of the government.

The current CEP is working on the legal framework of the upcoming elections "The electoral decree of 2015 should be transformed into electoral law," said Uder Antoine who recalled that the presidential decree of May 2016 had expanded the mandate of the Provisional Electoral Council stipulating in its article 1 - 6 "[...] the mandate of the Provisional Electoral Council is to organize the elections for all other vacant or potentially vacant posts pending the establishment of the Permanent Electoral Council. "

On 12 September 2018 President Jovenel Mose met with 8 of the 9 members of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and Uder Antoine the Executive Director of the Council, around the organization of the next elections. This included the formal transmission to the Executive of the electoral bill, the financial resources of the CEP and the financing of the electoral process, the renewal of the electoral map, the updating of the database, the setting up of adapted logistics and securing elections.

In July, as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Haitian government announced a reduction in fuel subsidies that would have caused a 38 percent rise in gasoline prices and 47 percent hike for diesel. The move triggered widespread protests during which demonstrators barricaded roads, looted stores, and set cars ablaze in the capital, Port-au-Prince. At least seven were killed in the violent demonstrations. The former prime minister announced his resignation July 14 as he was facing a vote of no confidence in an interpellation session in the Chamber of Deputies.

Haitians were on standby as President Jovenel Moise and the two heads of parliament met to appoint the country's new prime minister. During a press conference on July 16, Moise said a decision would be made quickly and would be the result of discussions with various institutions to ensure the needs of the public are met.

Moise met with the head of the Senate and the head of the Chamber of Deputies, Joseph Lambert and Gary Bodeau, to discuss the possible candidates. He also met with a commission of religious leaders, members of the National Confederation of Haitian Voodooists (CNVH) in the National Palace in an effort to establish a national dialogue composed equally of the economic, political, social and religious sectors.

A presidential candidate in both the 2010 and 2016 elections, Jean Henry Ceant is a notary by trade and advocates for improvements to Haitian society. The 62-year-old two-time presidential candidate and leader of the Renmen Ayiti (Love Haiti) political party was tapped as the country's next prime minister by President Jovenel Moise on August 5. The president released the news after the former prime minister, Jack Guy Lafontant, announced his sudden resignation due to violent conflicts triggered by a controversial agreement with the International Monetary Fund to raise fuel prices. He was named to the post on August 5 but, in a sign of discord between the legislative and presidential branches, it took a month to reach agreement on his 18-member cabinet.

Street demonstrations began on 07 February 2019 with many demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise as well as urgent calls to address the socioeconomic crisis that haunts the Caribbean island. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a report 25 February 2019 which revealed that at least 26 people have died and 77 others were injured since the protest started on Feb. 7. IACHR expressed its concern about the continuing violence in the country and said the organization has "collected disturbing information about blockades of streets, avenues, and roads; violence directed at protesters; sporadic shooting and arrests of people during the protests."

President Jovenel Moise was accused of fraudulently benefiting from funds generated by the PetroCaribe oil alliance with Venezuela. The allegations were made in an official report handed to Haitis Senate leader on May 31. Haiti's Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation (Cour Superieure de Comptes et du Contentieux Administratif), a non-partisan institution tasked with overseeing the government's budget, spending and allocation of funds, prepared the report detailing irregularities and alleged abuse of funds generated under the PetroCaribe agreement.

PetroCaribe was launched in June of 2005 as a Caribbean oil alliance, with Venezuela giving members preferential treatment for energy purchases, at a discounted price with low-interest deferred terms and an option to pay in kind instead of currency. Several audits have shown that much of Haiti's PetroCaribe revenue (about $3.8 billion) disappeared, having been disbursed for government construction contracts on projects that were never finished. The funds had originally been earmarked for infrastructure, social and economic projects.

Thousands took to the streets in Haitis capital, Port-au-Prince, 09 June 2019 to protest corruption and to demand the president resign. Protesters vowed to continue marching non-stop until their demands are satisfied.




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