Haiti Elections News Roundup – September 25

The CEP published (PDF) on September 18, 2015 a list of accredited national electoral observers for the upcoming October 25 election. The CEP was criticized after the first round legislative elections because many allegedly illegitimate observer groups had been granted accreditation. A local observer group led by RNDDH noted after the election that these phony organizations “were in fact representatives of the different political parties. Their method of intervention was simple: pay the voters.”  RNDDH, CNO and CONHANE named a number of these groups in their final report, none of which appear to have been accredited for the upcoming election.

Marie Carmel Paul Austin, a member of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), told Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste that local elections will be pushed back until December to cut down on the number of ballot boxes needed for the October 25 election. Elections for ASEC, CASEC and city delegates will take place alongside the second round of the Presidential election on December 27, Paul Austin said. The changes to the electoral calendar were set to be discussed last Friday, September 18, at a meeting between the CEP and political parties, but the meeting failed to reach any compromise, according to press reports.

Another CEP member Lourdes Edith Joseph told journalists that untrained individuals had assumed the roles of local election officials shortly before the August 9 elections, in lieu of those trained by the CEP. "We will make all the necessary corrections and investigations are underway to find the guilty," Joseph told Le Nouvelliste. In its August 11 preliminary report, the EU Observation Mission had noted (p. 4) that such replacements of local officials "exacerbated concerns" among political actors and limited trust in the system. The Catholic Church's Justice and Peace Commission also reported on this phenomenon, specifically accusing such individuals in Jacmel of acting in the interests of PHTK candidates. Each polling station has three officials (president, vice-president and secretary, known as “membres de bureau de vote”) responsible for administering the vote on election day, selected with input from political parties.

More than two weeks after the electoral schedule called for final results from the August 9 election to be announced, no information is yet available. More than 200 complaints were registered after the irregularity-plagued first round election and final results are pending the outcome of those complaints. More than 120 were appealed to the Bureaux de contentieux électoraux nationaux (BCEN). A member of the CEP previously said that final results from 4 departments would be announced earlier this week. On Thursday, Alterpresse reported that there is still no exact timetable for the announcement, but that final results from all 10 departments would be released at the same time. In an interview with Haiti Press Network, CEP member Néhémy Joseph claimed that the delays for the legislative elections' results would not affect the electoral timetable and that from a technical and logistic perspective, the CEP was 50% ready for the October 25 Presidential elections.

Yvon Feuillé, Fanmi Lavalas presidential campaign coordinator, told the press this week that former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide will speak in favor of Fanmi Lavalas presidential candidate Dr. Maryse Narcisse.  Rumours alleging that Aristide had died caused a stir on social media this past weekend. At the same time, Fanmi Lavalas leaders pledged to continue mobilizing against the “electoral coup d’État” of August 9. Louis Gérald Gilles announced four days of demonstrations to be held on September 24, 25, 29 and 30. “Mobilizations, mobilizations, mobilizations, elections!” Gilles stated.

Presidential candidate Samuel Madistin staked out a similar position, announcing that his party MOPOD will participate in the October 25 balloting while continuing to fight against the CEP in the streets. MOPOD played a role in the anti-Martelly protests this past winter that forced the resignation of then-PM Laurent Lamothe and resulted in the nomination of the current CEP.

Jude Celestin’s LAPEH came out against the dismissal of the CEP or resignation of President Martelly, reports the Haiti Press Network. Celestin, the former protégé of René Préval and 2010 presidential candidate under the banner of INITE, told Le Nouvelliste that his party was in talks with Vérité and INITE, as well as other political parties. Anacacis Jean Hector, general coordinator of the party, told the press on Wednesday that some grassroots groups from the Véríté political platform have been supporting LAPEH and Celestin.  According to Radio Metropole, René Monplaisir, a member of Véríté’s board has joined the Celestin camp, though Jean Hector stated that the leaders of Véríté have yet to weigh in. Véríté’s presidential candidate Jacky Lumarque was excluded from the race and the party has since announced their withdrawal from the electoral process unless changes are made to the CEP.

A recent survey claimed Jude Celestin holds a substantial lead in the Presidential race, with 31.5% of respondents saying they will vote for him. Pitit Dessalines' Moïse Jean-Charles came in second (13.4% of vote intentions), PHTK's Moïse Jovenel in third (7.3%) and Renmen Ayiti’s Jean-Henry Céant in fourth (7.2%), according to the survey. While the company that conducted the survey, Haïti Formation et Service de Consultation (HaForS), claims its poll was based on a nationally representative sample, the sample size or methodology of the survey does not appear to be publicly available.

The Club of Madrid, upon finishing their recent trip to Haiti, said that annulling the August 9 elections would be a mistake.  The mission, led by ex-Prime Minister of The Netherlands, Wim Kok, was in Haiti from September 21-23 for meetings with political parties, members of the CEP, the Haitian government and members of the international community. The EU-funded non-governmental organization released a document (PDF), “Policy Recommendations on Democratic Governance,” which outlines public policy proposals that the group wishes candidates will consider during the current election.

The U.S. State Department’s new Special Coordinator on Haiti, Kenneth H. Merten, also exhorted the Haitian authorities to stick to the established elections timetable, which he said is crucial to assuring “viable long-term term economic growth.” Merten arrived in the country on September 19, meeting with President Martelly, Prime Minister Evans Paul, the CEP and civil society groups. He will also pay a visit to the Caracol and CODEVI industrial parks in the North. The U.S. has long promoted low-wage manufacturing in Haiti.

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