Haiti: is the election runoff finally set?

On Jan. 28 Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced its new schedule for the long-delayed runoffs for the presidency and for many legislative seats. The CEP set Feb. 2 as the day when it would announce the results of the first round, held on Nov. 28; campaigning is to take place from Feb. 17 to March 18; and the actual vote is planned for Mar. 20, with the preliminary results to be announced on March 31. The second round was supposed to be held on Jan. 16 but was delayed by disputes over the results of the chaotic first round.

Most people assume that the two contenders for the presidency will be Mirlande Hyppolite Manigat (Coalition of National Progressive Democrats, RDNP) and popular singer Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky,” Peasant Response). Jude CĂ©lestin, the candidate of President RenĂ© PrĂ©val’s Unity party, came in second in the CEP’s official results, but a team from the Organization of American States (OAS) concluded that Martelly should have been in second place. On Jan. 26 Unity leaders issued a communiquĂ© agreeing to have CĂ©lestin withdraw from the race, although there was no sign that CĂ©lestin was willing to go along with the decision.

The US had been putting pressure on PrĂ©val and Unity leaders, suspending US entry visas for many of them. According to Ginger Thompson of the New York Times, unnamed “senior officials” in the administration of US president Barack Obama also “made it clear that Washington would withhold more than $1 billion in aid from Haiti unless there was an election the United States deems credible.”

Meanwhile, 12 of the original 18 presidential candidates continued to call for annulling the entire vote and holding a new election. (AlterPresse, Haiti, Jan. 26; New York Times, Jan. 27; Radio Kiskeya, Haiti, Jan. 28)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 30.

See our last post on Haiti.