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32011-2015 - Michel Martelly

The year 2010 was a presidential election year in Haiti. Congresswoman Maxine Waters' letter released December 23, 2009 to René Préval - President of Haiti, stated "concerns about the decision of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to exclude more than a dozen political parties from the Parliamentary elections scheduled for February and March 2010. I am concerned that these exclusions would violate the right of Haitian citizens to vote in free and fair elections and that it would be a significant setback to Haiti's democratic development."

On 15 January 2010 controversial former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said he would like to return home to assist in rebuilding Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake. The former Haitian leader lives in forced exile in South Africa. Mr. Aristide said he and his family were ready to leave for Haiti at a moment's notice. "As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time, to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the country," he said. "Moving from misery to poverty with dignity." Aristide had been in exile in South Africa since being ousted in a bloody rebellion in February 2004. He was hastily flown out of Haiti in a U.S. aircraft and said later that he had been kidnapped, an allegation the United States rejected. Aristide did not offer any indication of when or how he could return to Haiti but said friends have offered him the means to do so.

By mid-2010 the legislature had almost entirely dissolved after members' terms had expired because the January earthquake forced the cancellation of February 2010 legislative elections. President Preval's five-year term ends in February 2011; an attempt to prolong his term by several months if elections were not held resulted in protesters clashing with police in front of the ruins of the presidential palace. Préval said unofficially that he wanted elections on 28 November 2010, but he had not yet issued the necessary decree.

The country held two rounds of presidential and legislative elections on November 28, 2010, and March 20, 2011. On February 03, 2011 Haitian election officials said former first lady Mirlande Manigat and popular singer Michel Martelly would face off in the presidential runoff election set for 20 March 2011. The electoral commission's announcement meant ruling party candidate, Jude Celestin was out of the race. The long-awaited definitive results of the disputed November 2010 election differed from preliminary results, which put Celestin in the runoff with Manigat.

Riots broke out in December 2010 after the commission announced that Martelly was eliminated. Martelly's supporters accused the government of vote rigging. The Organization of American States recommended in a recent report that Martelly be placed in the runoff instead of Celestin, citing irregularities and fraud in the balloting. The United States urged Haitian authorities to follow the OAS recommendation.

Adding to political tensions in Haiti was the surprise return of former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier after 25 years in exile. A second exiled Haitian leader, former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, also contributed to the political suspense, after the government said it would grant him a diplomatic passport to return to Haiti.

In a second round of elections, voters elected President Michel Martelly. The presidential election drew a record low 24% voter participation in large part because the Fanmi Lavalas was excluded. Martelly won the presidential run-off, during which there were isolated incidents of fraud, flawed voter registration lists, ballot stuffing, intimidation, and some violence. International observers and civil society generally considered the second round to be free and fair.

The former pop star, 50, known to Haitians as "Sweet Micky" pledged to build a better and stronger Haiti, to end injustice and restore order. And seeking to reassure foreign donors and potential investors, Martelly, who took office in May 2011, promised guarantees for investments and private property. He took over from Rene Preval, who took off the blue and red presidential sash at the swearing-in ceremony and gave it to the Senate President who put it on Martelly. This was the first democratic transfer of power from one party to another in Haiti's turbulent history.

International observers considered the presidential and parliamentary elections generally free and fair, despite some allegations of fraud and irregularities. The government did not hold partial Senate and local elections originally scheduled for October 2011, then envisaged for November 2012, because of an impasse between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches over the proper procedure to establish a Permanent Electoral Council.

More than three months after taking office, Haiti's parliament refused to confirm President Martelly's first two nominees for prime minister. The delay in filling the post stalled earthquake reconstruction efforts. On 06 September 2011 President Martelly selected Garry Conille for the post. His third nominee for prime minister, Conille served as an aide to former U.S. President Bill. Clinton in his work as UN special envoy for Haiti. Shortly before his February 2012 resignation, Prime Minister Gary Conille released the results of an internal government audit detailing irregularities in post-earthquake emergency reconstruction contracts that then prime minister Jean Max Bellerive awarded between 2010 and 2011. Conille resigned from the post in February after repeated clashes with Martelly.

Conille's sudden resignation, just months after taking office, brought the government to a standstill, as Haiti's prime minister acts as the day-to-day head of government. The political crisis has kept foreign donors from following through on pledges to contribute to Haiti's reconstruction efforts. Haitian lawmakers confirmed Foreign Minister Laurent Lamothe as the country's new prime minister, ending a lengthy political stalemate that has stalled reconstruction efforts from the 2010 earthquake. The Chamber of Deputies, Haiti's lower house of parliament, confirmed President Michel Martelly's nomination of Lamothe on May 03, 2012 by a vote of 62-3.

The constitution requires that, following local and municipal elections, local officials must hold a series of indirect elections to staff departmental organs of self-government and an interdepartmental council to advise the national government and nominate candidates for the Permanent Electoral Council (CEP). The law requires that the three branches of the national government select from among these nominees the council’s nine members. These indirect elections have not taken place since the constitution was written; however, after promulgating a set of amendments to the constitution in May 2012, President Martelly initiated a new process to create a CEP, in which each branch of the national government--executive, parliament, and judiciary--would directly choose its own three representatives to sit on the council.

Widespread allegations of executive meddling in the judicial branch nominations to the CEP erupted in July 2012 and immediately gridlocked Parliament’s selection process. In October 2012 the CSPJ selected three new CEP nominees, but their status remained uncertain as the previously selected trio refused to cede their positions. After numerous failed attempts to find a political compromise, the executive branch and the Parliament agreed to form a negotiating committee in November 2012 to deal with lingering issues.

Fanmi Lavalas [Lavalas Family], the left-wing opposition party that was once led by former president Jean Bertrand Aristide, was at the forefront of anti-government protests. Thousands of Haitians took to the streets on November 18, 2013 calling for President Martelly to resign. It was the largest anti-government protest since Martelly took office in May 2011, surpassing manifestations in May 2013 when deposed former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide made a rare court appearance.

As of early 2014 the balloting for one-third of Haiti’s 30-member Senate had been delayed since May 2012, while municipal elections had been delayed since April 2011. Under the mediation of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti (CEH), on 04 February 2014 the political parties, despite deep divisions, finally decided that the elections combined, will not be organized by the Transitional College of the Permanent Electoral Council (CTCEP), but by a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).

Sectors most favorable to the Government not only wanted elections in 2014 for the renewal of senators whose term had expired, but also that these elections combine the renewal of the second third of the Senate whose term will expire in January 2015. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said 6 February 2014 "When it comes to elections, we want to see elections that are free, fair and transparent, that allow Haitians to express their views as part of the political process and that provide the political stability that is critical for Haiti’s continued progress."

Because no elections had been held, Haiti faced the prospect that President Martelly will have to govern by decree starting in January 2015. The terms of two-thirds of Senate members and the entire lower chamber of Haiti's parliament expire 12 January 2015.

On 15 March 2014, culminating several weeks of talks early in the year, President Martelly, representatives from the Senate, and approximately 50 political parties signed the El Rancho Accord, an agreement designed to provide new impetus to the electoral process. The agreement contemplated omnibus 2014 elections, with a first round target date of October 26, covering two-thirds of the Senate, the entire Chamber of Deputies, and all local and municipal posts. The proposed undertaking would involve more than 30,000 candidates vying for 4,000 seats.

Despite the initial optimism from domestic leaders and the international community that the El Rancho signing generated, significant obstacles persisted. After months of debate between the executive, legislative, and judicial branch actors over the reconstitution of the electoral council, on 16 July 2014, President Martelly ultimately promulgated a decree formally filling all nine positions on the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and setting elections for 26 October 2014. The opposition maintained the CEP was not impartial and not constitutionally formulated.

After eight days of consultations, a presidential commission delivered a report 11 December 2014 recommending Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe step down. The commission also called for resignations before Christmas of the president of the Supreme Court and the current members of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council. Haiti's prime minister resigned 14 December 2014 after violent anti-government protests. Laurent Lamothe said he was leaving "with a sense of accomplishment." Protesters had called for President Michel Martelly and Lamothe both to resign.

On 21 December 2014 Haitian Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume was named interim prime minister to replace Laurent Lamothe. On 26 December 2014 President Michel Martelly picked veteran politician and former mayor of Port-au-Prince Evans Paul to be the next prime minister. Paul took over from Florence Duperval Guillaume, who was named interim prime minister as a temporary replacement for Laurent Lamothe.

The Haitian parliament was dissolved on 13 January 2015 following the failure of negotiations to reach a deal extending the terms of its members to avert a political crisis. Political party Fanmi Lavalas of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was not included in the negotiations. Haiti had not held legislative or municipal elections for three years, and the lack of a working parliament effectively left President Michel Martelly to rule by decree. the United Nations “Core Group” of countries working closely with Haiti, such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, and the European Union, issued a statement saying it “deplores the fact that the Haitian parliament has become dysfunctional,” while offering its support for Martelly.

Haitian President Michel Martelly announced plans on 16 January 2015 to form a consensus government within the next 48 hours in a bid to rescue the impoverished Caribbean nation from a looming political crisis. Under normal circumstances, the prime minister and the electoral authority would have to be ratified by parliament.

Haiti was scheduled to hold presidential elections at the end of 2015. The president serves a five-year term and may not serve consecutive terms. The president may only have two non-sequential terms. Martelly was ineligible for re-election when his term ran out under the Constitution, which forbids consecutive terms.

During his reign, Sweet Micky organized two carnivals a year and made proclamations about Haiti being open for business and bombarded social media with pictures and promises of grandiose projects that were either underway or under construction. He seemed to think he was clever by ruling Haiti without a Parliament for most of his 5-year term. He eventually held elections beginning in August 2015, which were arguably the most disastrous ones since Haiti began its modern day democratic experiment in 1986.

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Page last modified: 09-06-2016 19:06:34 ZULU