Haitian President-elect Michel Martelly traveled to Washington DC today to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the heads of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Talks will focus on job creation, education, security, reconstruction, public health, and the future relationship between Haiti and these multinational organizations.
The three-day trip to the U.S. comes two weeks after preliminary results confirmed that Mr. Martelly received 68 percent of the vote in a March 20 run-off election, beating former First Lady Mirlande Manigat. The President-elect will also meet with the U.S. news media, including CNN, the Washington Post, and Fox News. The National Press Club in Washington has confirmed that Martelly will hold a press conference on Thursday, the last day of his trip.
The Provisional Electoral Council had intended to release final results on April 16, but the announcement was since rescheduled for tomorrow. If the preliminary results stand, Martelly will become Haiti’s 44th president on May 14. One of his first responsibilities will be to nominate a new prime minister, who must then be approved by a parliament still largely controlled by members of outgoing President Réne Préval’s INITE party.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Port-au-Prince yesterday to meet with Haitian politicians regarding the ongoing presidential elections. She met with incumbent president René Préval and the three leading candidates after the November 2010 vote: former first lady Mirlande Manigat, construction executive Jude Célestin and popular musician Michel Martelly.
The preliminary results were originally contested when Martelly—long expected to advance to a second round—lost out to Célestin to advance to the runoff. After much international pressure, the Organization of American States (OAS) conducted an investigation, and issued a report recommending that Martelly be included in the runoff instead of Célestin. Secretary Clinton said yesterday that the Obama administration supports the OAS’ findings. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council is expected to issue its final ruling on Wednesday.
Although the presidential runoff is scheduled for March 20, with results to be announced on April 16, Préval is constitutionally required to leave office on February 7. However, an emergency bill passed by Haiti’s parliament last year allows Préval to stay in office until May 14. Célestin, a member of Préval’s Inité party and widely viewed as his political protégé, has in recent days rebuffed Préval’s calls to withdraw from the race.
In addition, a Department of State press release noted that Secretary Clinton visited a cholera treatment clinic to monitor ongoing reconstruction efforts after last year’s earthquake.
Haitians took to the polls—and then to the streets—yesterday on election day for President René Préval’s successor amid political violence and widespread accusations of fraud. Among the 18 candidates, much attention on election day and now afterwards is focusing on the actions of Mirlande Manigat of the Rally of Progressive National Democrats party (RDNP). She is the presidential front runner with the latest opinion polls giving her an 8 percent lead over any other candidate.
Manigat, a 70-year-old former first lady and current assistant dean of Quisqueya University has been a primary voice of opposition against President Préval’s government. On Sunday, she called for the Provisional Electoral Council to annul the election due to widespread irregularities. "This election is not important for me. It's important for the country. Haitians do not want continuity. They want change, to see a rupture from the past," according to Manigat.
For the Haitians who turned out to vote, despite danger of protests and the omnipotent threat of Cholera, many were not able to cast their ballot. Names were often missing from the list of registrated voters or polling stations were simply closed. There were even reports of an assassination attempt on presidential candidate Michel Martelly, better known by his stage name, “Sweet Micky.” As of Sunday night, 12 of the 18 candidates had denounced the elections as illegitimate.
Many voters and presidential contenders alike are blaming President Préval’s government for the electoral uncertainties. Presidential candidate Anne Marie Josette Bijou claimed that Préval, in agreement with the electoral council, is tampering with the elections to benefit the government-endorsed candidate, Jude Celestin. On Sunday the electoral council said there were irregularities at 56 of the 1,500 voting centers.
From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Santos Wins Big in Colombia
Former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos won Colombia’s June 20 runoff elections by a landslide, pulling in more than 69 percent of ballots compared to the 27.5 percent earned by his rival, ex-Mayor of Bogota Antanas Mockus. Santos also won a greater share of the vote than did popular President Álvaro Uribe in 2006. “The hour of national unity has arrived,” said the president-elect after his victory. Semana reports that Santos will have one of the largest mandates of any Colombian leader, given coalition support in Congress, and explores the solidity of that support base. La Silla Vacia analyzes some of Santos’ initial appointments, including his chief of staff, finance minister, and personal secretary. Santos will be sworn into office on August 7.
Read an AS/COA analysis of Santos’ victory.
Colombia’s Neighbors React to Santos Victory
The Hemispheric Brief blog reports on reactions to the victory of Colombian President-Elect Juan Manuel Santos, paying particular attention to Quito and Caracas, both of which have had troubled relations with Bogota.
U.S. Senator John F. Kerry, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today released a report on Haitian President René Préval’s handling of earthquake recovery efforts. The report is critical of Mr. Préval’s reconstruction leadership, noting that ``key decisions remain in flux and critical humanitarian issues related to shelter and resettlement are not resolved.”
The international community has also voiced concerns, particularly at the UN Security Council, that promises of aid by some countries for recovery assistance may not fully materialize.
This is not the first time that U.S. lawmakers have criticized the Haitian government’s handling of the post-earthquake rebuilding process. Earlier this month Senator Richard Lugar, also on the Foreign Relations Committee, urged President Préval to move more aggressively on reconstruction so as not to lose the confidence of the United States.
As international dignitaries gathered in
With January’s earthquake now almost three months back in the rear-view mirror, an inevitable onset of donor fatigue seems to be emerging. Events such as the recent Health Care Reform debates have pushed
This issue was addressed in a post on the Haiti by Hand blog in February.