Haiti Elections News Roundup - August 21

Interim President Jocelerme Privert has bypassed the political gridlock in Haiti’s parliament and set elections officially for Oct 9. Despite its withdrawal of electoral funding on July 7, the U.S. expressed its confidence in Haiti’s ability to organise fair elections. Kenneth Merten, the Department of State’s Special Coordinator for Haiti, stated in clear terms: “I am confident that Haitians can organize good elections. If the elections are good, the U.S. will not have any problems with the Haitian government.”
President Privert assured the public that the elections will be funded nationally, affirming that the $55 million needed for the elections are available in the public treasury. “It is a matter of national sovereignty,” he stated. In contrast, former Prime Minister Evans Paul said that finding the money to hold the elections will be “an unsurmountable challenge” for Privert. In response, members of the Haitian Diaspora offered to contribute to help finance the elections. The IC (L’initative Citoyenne; The Citizens’ Initiative) welcomed the government’s decision to fund the elections nationally and strongly opposed the printing of the ballot papers abroad.

The OAS welcomed the announcement of the elections declaring that it will observe the October 9 vote. The OAS electoral mission finally released a report on the CIEVE (Independent Electoral Evaluation and Verification Commission) report.  In stark contrast to EU and the US, the OAS respected Haiti’s decision to rerun the elections, while recommending improvements to the electoral process to remove obstacles to voting. For example, the OAS urged the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to distribute electoral lists in a timely manner and to train staff ahead of the elections. The OAS also suggested sanctioning candidates implicated in incidents of violence and intimidation, introducing electronic registration of party representatives, and adopting fingerprint technology. The EU observation mission announced its withdrawal from Haiti, in protest over the decision to discard the results of October 25 presidential election and start again.

G30, a group uniting thirty minority candidates, has renamed itself as RCG30 (The Grouping of G30 and its allies) and decided to put forward Jacques Sampeur, of KLE (Konbit Liberasyon Ekonomik; The Economic Liberation Collective) as its candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

OPL (l’Organisation du Peuple en Lutte) announced a possible alliance with LAPEH (Ligue alternative pour le Progrès et l’Émancipation d’Haïti; The Alternative League for the Progress and Emancipation of Haiti).

Moïse Jean-Charles from Pitit Dessalines recently travelled to the U.S., stating that he was planning the next steps in his presidential campaign.

Unhappy with Verification, US Cuts Election Funding: "We've made no bones about it"

Cross-posted from CEPR's Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog

Dismayed by the decision to rerun controversial and fraud-plagued presidential elections, the US State Department announced on Thursday a suspension of electoral assistance to Haiti. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the decision was communicated to Haitian authorities last week, noting that the US “has provided over $30 million in assistance” for elections and that the move would allow the US “to maintain priority assistance” for ongoing projects.

Kirby added that “I don’t have a dollar figure in terms of this because it wasn’t funded, it wasn’t budgeted.” However multiple sources have confirmed that the U.S has withdrawn nearly $2 million already in a United Nations controlled fund for elections. Donor governments, as well as the Haitian state, had contributed to the fund. Prior to the US move, $8.2 million remained for elections.
The pulling of funds indicates the growing displeasure with Haitian authorities’ decision to rerun last year’s presidential elections.

“We’ve made no bones about the fact that we had concerns about the way the process was unfolding,” Kirby told reporters on Thursday. During a July 4 address, US Ambassador to Haiti Peter Mulrean was even clearer: “We had difficulty understanding the decision … to start the presidential election from scratch.”

According to University of Virginia professor Robert Fatton, the withdrawal may be the “typical punishment” for “feeling insulted by the decisions taken by the people in its so-called ‘backyard.’”
“We believe it’s the sound thing to do, the right thing to do, for the people of Haiti in the long term,” Kirby said about the suspension. The Haitian government and electoral authorities have previously indicated a desire to fund elections from its own coffers. 

“We already made ourselves clear: Haiti will make all effort to find the $55 million to do the elections,” presidential spokesman Serge Simon told the Miami Herald. “If no one comes to our assistance we will manage because the priority for us is the elections,” he added.

“Haiti organizing its own elections with its own funds is a very good thing,” Fatton said. While noting that it would not guarantee a cleaner election, Fatton continued “This new reality may finally compel Haitians to blame or congratulate themselves for the outcome, and it represents a small but important step in the country’s recovery of a modicum of its national sovereignty.”
Second-round presidential elections, scheduled for January, were scrapped amid allegations of fraud and increasing street protests. The handpicked successor to former president Michel Martelly had placed first, according to the since discarded results. The US, European Union, United Nations and other donors that make up the “Core Group” in Haiti all endorsed the results as credible.

With no president-elect waiting, Martelly stepped down when his term ended in February. The legislature elected a provisional president from the political opposition – Senator Jocelerme Privert.

Privert, with the strong backing of civil society organizations, local elections observers and a wide swath of the political spectrum, created a verification commission to audit the previous election. The five-member panel found evidence of “zombie votes” — representing hundreds of thousands of votes — as well as widespread irregularities and recommended tossing the results. Haiti’s electoral council, heeding the recommendations, scheduled new presidential elections for October.

European Union election observers, disagreeing vehemently with the decision, pulled out of the country. The Organization of American States (OAS), after initially backing the results, pledged to respect the Haitian-led verification process and new electoral calendar. However the US suspension of electoral assistance may impact the OAS’ ability to continue monitoring the electoral process.

The US provided $1 million to the OAS for its electoral observation mission last year.
Some have expressed concern that the US suspension of assistance could have greater ramifications for the electoral process. “The fact that the US is pulling $2 million from the ‘election basket’ may be a sign that it is prepared to delegitimize the forthcoming elections if the results do not coincide with its interests,” Fatton said.
Asked prior to the announcement if the US was concerned that the withdrawal of funds could undermine the legitimacy of the elections, State Department Public Affairs Officer Joseph Crook did not immediately respond, later pointing to the Thursday press briefing. Kirby repeated that “these are decisions that [Haitian leaders] have to make, and we want to continue to urge them to make the right ones.” The State Department once again pointed to the press briefing when asked if they were discussing with other donor countries the possibility of pulling election funding.
The United Nations and “Core Group” countries previously warned that the decision to rerun elections and extend the electoral process could have implications for bilateral assistance. Organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, have stated that the ongoing electoral process would impact new funding decisions.

The suspension of US assistance could also have more immediate political ramifications in Haiti.  Provisional president Privert, initially given a 120-day mandate that expired in June, is awaiting a decision from parliament on whether he will be able to stay on until new elections are held or if a new interim leader will replace him. Though Privert seems to have majority support in parliament, certain members from the minority have maneuvered to block quorum and prevent a vote from taking place.

Martelly’s political party and its allies argue that Privert lacks legitimacy and must resign. The US decision will likely embolden those voices.  Any funds allocated from the Haitian state for the new elections would likely need to be approved by the parliament.
This week, the Washington DC-based Haiti Democracy Project brought two parliamentarians — both opposed to Privert — to the US for meetings with Congressional staff and US government representatives. The delegation is advocating for the holding of the scrapped second round election and the removal of Privert. James Morrell, the Executive Director of the Haiti Democracy Project, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Haiti Elections News Roundup - June 20

The end of interim President Jocelerme Privert’s 120-day term came and went on June 14 without any decision by Haiti’s parliament, leaving confusion in its wake. The disputes over extending Privert’s mandate spilled out into the streets, with some of his opponents hinting at the possibility of his removal by force. The international powers expressed their dismay at the political uncertainty created by this situation. The verification commission’s (CIEVE) report, meanwhile, continued to make waves. The EU withdrew its observers in protest of the decision to rerun the presidential race, while the U.S. also expressed its “regret” over this decision. Another big question for the upcoming elections is where the financing will come from, given the disquiet of the international donors.

Haiti’s political actors were sharply divided over whether Privert remained President post-June 14. According the February 5 agreement, it falls to the National Assembly (a joint meeting of Deputies and Senators) to decide what happens after the interim president’s mandate expires, but parliamentarians have repeatedly failed to hold a meeting. Another National Assembly meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21. Pro-Martelly legislators, who had strongly opposed any extension of the mandate, insisted that Privert was no longer president. Angered by the verification commission (CIEVE) and especially its call to re-examine the electoral rulings for 41 parliamentary seats, some of these legislators indicated their preference for Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles to carry the electoral process forward.

Jocelerme Privert retorted that he would accept whatever decision the parliament came to concerning his mandate, but that he would not leave office without parliament choosing a replacement. Eleven of 22 sitting Senators declared their support for Privert’s continuing legitimacy as president. Parliamentarians supportive of Privert claimed that the interim president has the majority needed to extend his term and accused their opponents of blocking the National Assembly.

The international powers voiced their concern about the consequences of the gridlock in Haiti’s parliament. On June 15, the Core Group expressed “concern that no measures have been taken to ensure institutional continuity,” and urged the National Assembly “to take action and reach a solution which avoids an institutional vacuum, and facilitate the return to constitutional order through the holding of elections without further delay.” In a June 16 statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he was “deeply concerned over the continuing political uncertainty in Haiti.” The National Assembly needed to “urgently” arrive at a decision, Ban warned, since further delays in completing the electoral process could “have the potential to adversely affect stability in Haiti, as well as international support to the country.”

Anticipating the end of Privert’s term, PHTK and its allies attempted to launch a political offensive. On June 10, former Prime Minister Evans Paul unveiled the Entente Démocratique (ED), a new coalition of Paul’s KID, Martelly’s PHTK, Guy Philippe’s Consortium, Repons Peyizan, Platfòm Viktwa (both Repons and Viktwa are members of Consortium),  Bloc National Centre Droit and MONHA. At the launch of ED, Paul denounced the “totalitarian tendencies” of the interim authorities and called for a full-scale mobilisation against President Privert to ensure his departure on June 14.

The ED seemed to hope for an uprising that would unseat Privert. In a June 12 letter on behalf of the Entente, Paul called on Haitian National Police director-general Michel Ange Gédéon to revolt against Privert at the end of his mandate: “We remind you that you have a legal obligation to not obey any illegal order coming from a person stripped of legality and legitimacy.” The ED also called on the international community to withhold recognition of Privert’s government after June 14. These hopes were dampened somewhat on June 16, when US State Department Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten told journalists: “At this moment, I recognize him (Privert) as being the interim president of Haiti, but we hope that the Haitian authorities and the parliament will act soon to clarify this.” 

In the Dominican Republic, rumours circulated of an insurgency in the making. On the margins of the OAS meeting in Santo Domingo, Fuerza Nacional Progresista (FNP) politician Pelegrín Castillo claimed: “In Haiti they are arming in anticipation of an insurrectional conflict, around a well-known figure and the international organizations, and the United States in particular, know this.”

Demonstrations, both for and against Privert staying in office, were held on June 14. The march announced by the ED as part of its “Operasyon depoze” drew only a handful of demonstrators to the KID party headquarters and never took to the streets. ED blamed the poor turnout on the “climate of persecution” allegedly created by Privert. Fanmi Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines, on the other hand, mobilized several thousand demonstrators in support of keeping Privert on to hold new elections. In front of the National Palace, angry demonstrators tried to block the passage of the US ambassador’s convoy.

The U.S. has previously expressed misgivings about the decision to re-run the elections. In a June 8 statement, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said the U.S. “regrets the decision by the Provisional Electoral Council to restart the presidential elections from the first round.” Toner did not comment on the CIEVE’s conclusion that fraud had skewed the results, but criticized the delays and extra costs that the re-run would entail. “The Haitian people deserve to have their voices heard, not deferred,” Toner told journalists, who immediately questioned this stance:

QUESTION: Right. Well, on Haiti, just – I mean, is it – what’s more important? For them to have a president that was elected under suspect circumstances, or for them to have a president that was elected in a clean and --

MR TONER: I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. And I think our concern is that by now taking this back to zero, or from the starting line, it’s just going to add (to the length of the process. And there needs to be leadership installed there.)

... QUESTION: Well, but weren’t there issues with the first round?

MR TONER: There were, but we believe they can be addressed without, again, restarting the entire process.

The CEP’s decision to re-run the presidential elections has raised questions about Haiti’s ability to finance new elections, given the reticence of many donors to contribute again. On June 9, a spokeperson for Privert estimated the total cost of the upcoming elections at $55 million, of which the Haitian government already had $30 million set aside. In addition, the UNDP elections basket fund has $9.6 million in unspent funds. To close the gap in funding, Privert said his government would turn to other public institutions to finance “this act of national sovereignty.” He has also pledged to reduce costs, through mobilizing students and using existing state-owned vehicles instead of buying new ones.

The U.S. spent $33 million on the 2015 elections and has threatened to withhold further funds, since the decision to re-run the presidential race was announced. In a recent interview for Le Nouvelliste, Kenneth Merten stated: “We still do not know what position we will adopt regarding our financial support. U.S. taxpayers have already spent more than $33 million and that is a lot. We can ask ourselves what was done with the money or what guarantees there are that the same thing will not happen again.”  A detailed analysis of US spending, however, raised questions about how much of those funds were truly necessary to hold elections, and how much simply served to enrich foreign organizations.

The publication of CIEVE’s report and the new electoral calendar revealed divergences among the international observation missions sent to oversee Haiti’s elections. Secretary General Luis Almagro released a statement on June 8 saying that the OAS “welcomes” the new election dates set for October 9 2016 and assured that “it will continue to play a positive role in the electoral process.” The EU, by contrast, announced that it was withdrawing its observation mission in protest of the decision to re-run the October presidential elections. The head of the Mission, Elena Valenciano, insisted that the October 2015 elections “were globally consistent with international norms” and claimed that the CIEVE’s work had “many factual, legal, methodological and conceptual weaknesses.”

The EU observer mission published a 15-page report that bitterly attacked the credibility and conclusions of the CIEVE. The technical staff of the CIEVE issued a response to the EU’s criticisms, defending the methodology of the CIEVE and denouncing the “partisan behaviour” of the EU observers. The “arrogance and disdain” shown by Valenciano and the EU mission, noted the CIEVE technical staff, was “coloured by the ambient racism towards the Haitian people” that is “more and more evident among a section of diplomats and functionaries in international agencies.” The Spanish Foreign Ministry strongly backed the decision of the EU to withdraw, perhaps not surprisingly, given that most of the EU observer mission’s leadership is Spanish.

The G-8 confirmed by communiqué that the coalition of presidential candidates, having accomplished its objectives, is now dissolved. So far, only four presidential candidates have confirmed their participation in the October 9 election with the CEP. Fanmi Lavalas’ Maryse Narcisse has confirmed, but Moïse Jean-Charles (Pitit Dessalines), Jovenel Moïse (PHTK) and Jude Célestin (LAPEH) are expected to confirm their participation before the June 22 deadline. The CEP decided not to allow new candidates to re-register, which might have opened the door to excluded candidates such as Vérité’s Jacky Lumarque.

The US Spent $33 Million on Haiti’s Scrapped Elections — Here is Where it Went

Cross-posted from Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch 
Haiti’s electoral council announced yesterday that new first-round presidential elections would be held in October after a commission found widespread fraud and irregularities in the previous vote. The prospect of the new vote — to be held alongside dozens of parliamentary seats still up for grabs, has raised questions about how it could be funded. The previous elections — determined to be too marred by fraud and violence to count — cost upward of $100 million, with the bulk of the funding coming from international donors.

But now, donors are balking. Last week the State Department’s Haiti Special Coordinator Ken Merten said that if elections are redone “from scratch” than it would put U.S. assistance in jeopardy. It “could also call into question whether the U.S. will be able to continue to support financially Haiti’s electoral process,” Merten added. In a separate interview, Merten explained:

We still do not know what position we will adopt regarding our financial support. U.S. taxpayers have already spent more than $33 million and that is a lot. We can ask ourselves what was done with the money or what guarantees there are that the same thing will not happen again.

So, what was done with the money? Could the same thing happen again?

To begin with, that figure seems to include money allocated in 2012 – years before the electoral process began. Local and legislative elections, which former president Michel Martelly was constitutionally required to organize, failed to happen. A significant share of this early funding likely went to staffing and overhead costs as international organizations or grantees kept their Haiti programs running, despite the absence of elections. It’s also worth pointing out that many millions of that money never went to electoral authorities, but rather to U.S. programs in support of elections.  

In April 2013, USAID awarded a grant to the DC-based Consortium for Elections and Political Processes. In total, $7.23 million went to the consortium before the electoral process even began. An additional $4.95 million was awarded in July 2015, a month before legislative elections. The consortium consists of two DC-based organizations, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). In a January report to Congress, the State Department explained further what some this money went towards:
1.       “the creation and implementation of twenty-six Electoral Information Centers (EICs) … to provide information to the general public on the electoral process”

2.       “training more than 100 journalists in several departments on topics such as the international standards for elections …”

3.       “Funding through INL supported election security.”

4.       “USAID also supported the creation of a new domestic election observation platform that helped build greater transparency into the electoral process by establishing a grassroots coalition of reputable and well-trained domestic observers …”

Some funding also went to increasing women’s participation in the electoral process. But it’s questionable what the return on that $12.18 million really was. Not a single woman was elected to parliament — though it now appears as though at least one was elected, only to have her seat stolen through the bribing of an electoral judge. In terms of providing information to the public about the elections, participation in both the legislative and presidential elections was only about a fifth of the population. The money spent on local observers may have been more successful, but not for U.S. interests. The local observer group, the Citizen Observatory for the Institutionalization of Democracy, led by Rosny Desroches, agreed with other local observation missions that a verification commission (opposed by the U.S.) was needed to restore confidence in the elections. The U.S. spent millions training local observers, only to later ignore their analysis. Instead, the U.S. has consistently pointed to the observation work of international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the EU. The U.S. also provided $1 million to the OAS for their observation work.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise the funding didn’t have the intended effect. A 2012 evaluation of NDI conducted by Norway’s foreign development agency found that about “4 out of every 10 dollars” went to overhead, staff in Washington DC or to the expatriate country director who made more than a quarter of a million dollars.

The U.S. contributed $9.7 million to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “basket fund” for elections. The UNDP controlled the pooled donor funds and also funds contributed by the Haitian government (more than any other individual donor). Funds were used to print ballots, train workers, and for other logistical operations. However, it’s important to note that $3 million of these funds were distributed in 2012 and 2014, well before any election would take place.

An additional $7.57 million went to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for logistical operations for the elections, mainly distributing and picking up ballots before and after the election. After the August legislative elections were plagued by violent groups that shut down voting, UNOPS shifted strategy for the October election. In certain “hot spots,” ballots would not follow the normal procedures for transportation to the tabulation center, instead, UNOPS would bypass the chain, picking up electoral information at 67 voting centers and bringing the materials straight to Port-au-Prince. According to diplomatic sources, UNOPS threatened to pull out entirely if additional funds for this measure were not given. The U.S. awarded $1.8 million to UNOPS on September 29, 2015.

An additional $1.77 million was given to UNOPS in December, but the second-round presidential election never took place. Though it was clear to many that the elections would not be held given widespread condemnation by local observers and civil society groups, the U.S. and others in the international community insisted the second round go ahead. With protests increasing, they moved forward and distributed electoral materials for an election that was never going to happen. This strengthened Martelly’s bargaining power over the opposition, but meant millions of dollars were spent for no reason.

In total, funding to UNOPS, UNDP, OAS, IFES and NDI totaled $30.45 million. This is the vast majority of the $33 million the U.S. says it contributed to the electoral process. Additional funds were also awarded through the State Department for election-related security.

So yes, the U.S. spent over $30 million on Haiti’s elections, but not all of that went directly to the elections or was even spent wisely in supporting them. It’s clear it would take far less for the U.S. to support a Haitian-led electoral process next October. And perhaps the best reason for the U.S. to continue to fund the election, if Haiti requests such support, is that it was the U.S. and other actors in the international community that pushed ahead and put millions of dollars into a fatally flawed electoral process that Haitians have now determined was irreparably marred by fraud. The problem is not that Haitian’s wasted U.S. taxpayer dollars by scrapping the election results; it’s that the U.S. was throwing good money after bad. That’s something that can be fixed.

All grantee funding data is from USASpending.gov

Haiti Elections News Roundup - June 7

It’s official: Haiti’s electoral council (CEP) confirmed yesterday that the October 25 presidential election will be rerun, with a new date set for October 9 2016. The CEP’s decision comes on the heels of a report by the Independent Electoral Verification Commission, which  recommended scrapping the current results and restarting the process from scratch. The CEP, however, did not clarify whether it will adopt the commission’s recommendations to review a series of controversial BCEN rulings concerning 15 deputies’ and 2 senators’ elections.

The verification commission’s report, released last week on May 30, laid bare the failings of the electoral process as it unfolded on October 25. Commission President Francois Benoit explained that the results had been badly distorted by “zombie votes,” i.e. votes that could not be traced to any living voter, the number of which “exceeded the legitimate votes acquired by politicians.” The largest source of “untraceable votes” was the huge distribution of accreditation cards prior to the vote, which were bought and sold by parties in the lead-up to October 25 and allowed party representatives (mandataires) to vote multiple times, the report noted. The other major source of untraceable votes were voters who cast a ballot using a fake or otherwise invalid National Identification Card (CIN) number. Benoit stated that the fraud had been masterminded at a “high levels,” but did not identify who the perpetrators were.

On the whole, the commission found 628,000 untraceable votes, accounting for 40% of valid votes. As the report noted, this was “higher than the number of votes received by the first-place candidate according to the results of the CEP, higher than the total number of votes received by the second- and third-place candidates, and higher than the difference between the first- and fifth-place candidates.” In addition, only 1% of 3210 procés verbaux examined met all the critiera for acceptable tally sheets as laid out in the electoral decree. The report, however, failed to explain how the fraud that tainted the presidential race did not also affect the legislative contests on October 25.

The report’s call for a re-run of the presidential race, and the CEP’s acceptance of that recommendation, was a major blow for Jovenel Moïse and PHTK. Former president Michel Martelly’s party had opposed a verification from the beginning and denounced the commission as a plot to exclude their candidate Jovenel Moise. PHTK accused the commission of usurping the constitutional role of the CEP and urged the electoral council to disregard its findings and organize a second-round between Moïse and Jude Célestin. A party spokesman called the publication of the commission report a “non-event” and threatened that “zombies would take to the streets” to protest the findings. The Chamber of Deputies criticized the report, claiming that “it puts into question the founding democratic principles and the laws of the Republic.” The president of the Chamber who issued the statement is AAA’s Cholzer Chancy, who is close to PHTK.

There was some uncertainty as to whether the CEP would accept the commission’s recommendations. CEP President Léopold Berlanger had previously stated that the commission could not impose any decisions on the council. Intimidation was feared to be a possible factor in the council’s decision-making. CEP member Marie-Frantz Joachim’s driver was shot several times by unknown assailants on May 21, an attack many suspected was politically motivated.

The cancellation of the presidential elections was a major embarrassment for the U.S. and the UN, both of which reacted coldly to the commission’s findings. State Department spokesman John Kirby stated tersely that the U.S. had “taken note” of the report by the commission, which was convened against U.S. wishes. Kirby then demanded that the electoral process be completed as quickly as possible and issued a veiled threat to the interim authorities: 
Although this is a Haitian-led process, the longer it takes for Haiti to have a democratically elected president, the longer it’s 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.
In an interview, Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten said he had not read the commission report and declined to comment on its conclusions, but reiterated Kirby’s warning about a possible loss of funding. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a similar statement “taking note” of the commission’s report and warning that delays could “adversely affect international support to Haiti.” After the CEP’s announcement, the Core Group was even more explicit, stating that its ambassadors were “deeply concerned that the decision to rerun the Presidential elections will have financial consequences.”

Ronald Sanders, who led an OAS mission to broker a solution to Haiti’s electoral crisis in January, said there was “a certain illogic” to the reactions of the U.S. and the UN, which  were “puzzling,” “confusing,” and “odd.” “Normally, the UN would also be anxious to make sure that the validity of elections in any country is verified before proceeding any further. It is puzzling, therefore, that there is a different stance in relation to these elections in Haiti.” On Twitter via its official account, the OAS stated that it “supports a Haitian solution to continue the electoral process.”

Aside from PHTK and powerful actors in the international community, the commission was well-received in Haiti, though many felt it did not go far enough. The Group of Eight (G8) candidates said that the commission “could have done better.” In the light of the “vast operation of electoral crime directed by the master’s hand” in the 2015 elections, “exemplary sanctions need to be taken” against candidates and parties guilty of committing fraud “so that this does not repeat” in the future. All of the political actors need to “reach a historical compromise” before June 14, the G8 added, in order to avoid any chaos when Privert’s 120-day term as interim president comes to an end.

Popular organizations echoed this call for legal action to be taken against those implicated in the 2015 electoral fraud. In a joint note, MODEP (Mouvement démocratique populaire), Cercle Gramsci, GREPS (Reflection Group on Social Problems), UNNOH (Alumni Association of the Ecole Normale) and MOLEGHAF (The Liberty and Equality Movement of Haitians for Fraternity) deplored the fact that the Verification Commission makes no recommendation as to the legal pursuits of those involved in electoral fraud.  The popular organizations argued that it is necessary to redo all of the elections, and not just the presidential race, “in order to prevent bandits, criminals and drug dealers” from storming the Parliament.   The groups also criticized the role of the Core Group in the process, seen by them, as “a financial, electoral and ethical crime.” 

The Private Sector Economic Forum, a grouping of powerful Haitian businessmen, welcomed the report and hailed the “courage” and “patriotic sense” of five commission members, in a note issued on Wednesday.

In the light of these findings, nine former members of the CEP (Provisional Electoral Council), led at the time by Pierre Louis Opont, and Mosler Georges, the former Executive Director of the institution, were prohibited from leaving the country.  Similarly, the two former Prime Ministers, Laurent Salvador Lamothe and Evans Paul, as well as eleven ministers in Martelly’s administration were equally included in the ban to leave the country. Those included on the ban were implicated in the mismanagement of Petro-Caribe funds as well as electoral fraud in the August 9 and October 25 elections.

Lamothe strongly opposed the interdiction, denouncing it as an “illegal, abusive and arbitrary decision” since it is only the Higher Court of Justice and not a tribunal of the common law that can impose such restrictions on former state officials.  Alongside other members of Evans Paul’s administration, they issued a note of protest, against what they argued was an anti-Constitutional ruling made without sufficient justification. Following these protests and less than 48 hours after the original decision, on Wednesday evening, the Porte-au-Prince Prosecutor’s Office lifted the ban issued that forbid the former CEP counsellors and PHTK politicians to leave the country.