Protesters in Haiti called for the resignation of Haitian President Michel Martelly as they closed a major road in Port-au-Prince on Thursday. Some 2,000 protesters accused Martelly of corruption and demanded that the government hold elections.
This is the third protest against the Haitian government this week after elections have been delayed for almost two and a half years. In March, a U.S. Congressional delegation to Haiti—including Florida Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Frederica Wilson—voiced concern over Haiti’s delay to hold elections. UN Special representative and head of the UN Stabilization Mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH), Sandra Honoré, has encouraged the participation of all actors after the executive, the legislative and political parties reached the Accord of El Rancho in February, agreeing to combine parliamentary and municipal elections. If elections are not held by the end of 2014, the parliament will dissolve in January of 2015, allowing Martelly to rule by decree.
The protests on Thursday were broken up by riot police and UN peacekeepers after the blockade and the Associated Press reported that at least 10 protesters were detained. Demonstrations overtook the northern city of Cap-Haitien on Sunday, and protests in the capital turned violent on Monday after protesters smashed car windows in Port-au-Prince.
A 10-person team from the Organization of American States (OAS) completed a report on Monday that concluded that Michel Martelly won more votes than previously announced in the Haitian presidential elections on November 28, 2010. The controversial election placed ruling-party candidate Jude Celestin in second place, qualifying him for a second round run-off over the popular kompa star Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly. After reviewing the results, the OAS disqualified 17,220 votes for Celestin and 7,150 votes for Martelly, giving Martelly the second-place victory with 22.2 of the vote.
The Haitian government asked the OAS to review the election after widespread protests and violence broke out following the initial release of results on December 7, 2010. The clashes between protesters—mostly Martelly’s supporters—and UN Peacekeepers left at least five dead.
President René Préval and the Haitian Electoral Committee have denied accusations of fraud and ballot-stuffing. Now that the OAS results clash with the Haitian government’s—and cites the strong possibility of fraud—Préval has not yet accepted the OAS report. Whoever is chosen as the second-place finisher will face first place Mirlande Manigat in a run-off that is postponed until February 2011.
The Haitian Electoral Council decided on Sunday to postpone the publication of the results of a recount of the November 28 presidential election. The recount, conducted by the Haitian government with the supervision of the Organization of American States (OAS), was a response to widespread allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing. In a statement, the council chose to "postpone publication of the results of the first round of voting until the contentious phase of the electoral process is over and an OAS mission requested by President René Préval finishes its work.”
Responding to calls for a recount, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "If you ignore the legitimate questions raised about the election, you create conditions for longer-term instability.” The U.S. embassy in Haiti also expressed their concerns about the electoral disenchantment: “The United States, together with Haiti's international community partners, stands ready to support efforts to thoroughly review irregularities in support of electoral results that are consistent with the will of the Haitian people,”
A run-off is scheduled for January 16, 2011. According to the preliminary electoral results, former first lady Mirlande Manigat and ruling party candidate Jude Celestin would face each other, leaving third-place candidate Michel Martelly out of the running.
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.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.