Haiti Elections News Roundup - July 20

On Wednesday, the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on “U.S. Policy Towards Haiti Prior to the Elections,” presided by Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Tom Adams, State Department Special Coordinator for Haiti, gave testimony and answered questions on electoral preparations, administration and security. In his testimony, Adams emphasized that the United States “strongly supports the right of all Haitians to go to the polls,” and that the US “has no vote in these elections and does not support any candidate or group of candidates.” Relatedly, the United States Foreign Relations Committee also held a hearing on the nomination of a new US Ambassador to Haiti, Peter Mulrean, who echoed many of Tom Adams’ sentiments regarding US support for Haitian elections.

The Haitian government signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union to send an official Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) to monitor the legislative, presidential, local and municipal elections. The mission, which formally launches today, is set to analyze how the electoral rollout conforms to Haitian law, as well as international elections standards. Elena Valenciano, Chief of the EOM and European Union High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Political Security, assured that the mission “will not come to interfere in the electoral process, but to ensure that the will of the Haitian people is reflected as faithfully as possible in the electoral results.”

Jacky Lumarque submitted a complaint to the Office of Civilian Protection, the administrative body in charge of addressing civil rights violations, alleging that the CEP violated his rights by disqualifying his presidential candidacy. Lumarque alleged that the CEP exercised an abuse of administrative power through his disqualification, and urged the Office of Civilian Protection to review this decision. In a radio interview last week, Lumarque remained resolute that his reinstatement efforts would “without a doubt result in my reintegration onto the approved candidate list recognized by the CEP.”

On Monday, the CEP, the Women’s Ministry and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems organized a seminar on women’s political participation in Port-au-Prince. Political party representatives and grassroots women’s organizations also participated in the event, where they strategized on how to enhance the voice of women in the upcoming electoral cycle. Yolette Mengual, the Women’s Representative for the CEP, stressed that the current rate of women’s political participation falls far below the Electoral Decree’s 30% quota, as reported here.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Evans Paul and CEP President Pierre Louis Opont met with officials from key United Nations Member States at the UN Headquarters in New York as a part of a donor conference to raise money for elections in Haiti. Although the Haitian government has already contributed $13.8 million USD to the electoral rollout, there is still a budget shortfall of $15.6 million for the UNDP’s electoral budget, according to Opont. In his testimony before the United States Senate on Wednesday, State Department Special Coordinator for Haiti Tom Adams noted that there was an overall shortfall of $50 million. At the end of Thursday’s donor conference, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Norway pledged to donate an additional $15.4 million.

The Haitian government and CEP have failed to reach an agreement on how to disburse crucial campaign finance funds for the upcoming legislative elections. Although the March 2015 Electoral Decree includes provisions on subsidies for political parties who meet certain gender quotas, the decree does not provide a clear formula for disbursement. As the legislative elections are set to take place within three weeks – on August 9 – the government and CEP must quickly decide how to divide the nearly 500 million gourdes available to 98 political parties and 1,515 candidates.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) provided key funding to Mouvement Tét Kale (MTK), a political organization with close ties to President Michel Martelly, during the 2010 elections. Documents obtained by Al Jazeera America show that USAID gave nearly $100,000 to MTK shortly after the US government, with the support of the Organization of American States (OAS) and other foreign governments, helped overturn the results of the November 2010 presidential election. This allocation to MTK calls into question whether USAID followed its own funding protocol, as well as US government claims of neutrality in Haitian elections.

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