by Jacqueline Charles. Originally posted at the Miami Herald
The former head of Haiti’s Senate and National Assembly was elected the country’s interim president Sunday after a vote that went to a second round and took nearly 12 hours.
Jocelerme Privert, 62, beat out two other candidates — both were former Senate presidents as well — to lead a 120-day provisional government charged with organizing Haiti’s twice postponed presidential and partial legislative runoffs.
His historic election is part of an accord that hopes to address the constitutional and institutional crises created by former President Michel Martelly’s departure from office. Martelly left office a week ago Sunday without an elected successor because of the disputed Oct. 25 presidential first round.
Opposition parties and local watchdog groups have been insistent that the vote was marred by “massive” fraud in favor of Martelly’s handpicked successor, Jovenel Moïse. A relatively unknown serial entrepreneur who goes by the moniker “Banana Man,” Moïse, has denied the allegations.
Still, the allegations have triggered violent street protests, calls for a vote verification and a boycott by opposition presidential candidate Jude Célestin . Célestin qualified for the runoff against Moïse but said he will not participate in a second round until, among other things, the recommendations of an electoral commission charged with evaluating the vote are applied.
Continue reading Former Senate leader selected provisional president of Haiti
by Frances Robles. Originally posted at The New York Times
Thirty years to the day after Haiti’s last dictator fled the impoverished nation as it took its first wobbly steps toward democracy, another leader stepped down Sunday, without a successor to take his place.
The president, Michel Martelly, left office amid an electoral crisis that underscored how Haiti has struggled to maintain democratic order since the 1986 ouster of Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Mr. Martelly departed at the end of his five-year term, thanks to a last-minute agreement that laid out steps to choose a provisional government to take his place. Although the agreement left major doubts about who will govern the nation in the months to come, experts hailed it as an important move toward at least temporarily resolving a political impasse that had put hundreds of protesters on the streets.
At least one person was beaten to death Friday, as former army soldiers supporting Mr. Martelly hit the streets to counter protests that demanded his ouster.
“I said I would not hand over power to those that don’t believe in elections, but the Parliament guaranteed that they will do everything to make sure the process carries on,” Mr. Martelly said in his last speech to Parliament, before handing the presidential sash to the leader of the National Assembly. “I am leaving office to contribute to constitutional normalcy.”
Continue reading Michel Martelly, Haiti’s President, Departs Without a Successor
by Jacqueline Charles. Originally published in The Miami Herald
The head of an Organization of American States special mission to Haiti says he’s confident that all sides will reach a solution in the coming hours on how Haiti will be governed after President Michel Martelly steps down this weekend.
Still, Ronald Sanders, the Antiguan diplomat who is leading the mission and chairs the 35-nation OAS permanent council, concedes that “every day, the goal posts seem to change.”
“There is a different story about what settlement they’re going to reach, as to how they go forward after Feb. 7,” he said. “It’s been a volatile situation.”
Continue reading OAS mission chief says Haiti deal is near
Originally posted by The Washington Post
After months of mounting instability and political violence, Haiti now is days away from a full-bore leadership crisis. The way out of the impasse is unclear. What is clear is that the current, failed president, Michel Martelly, must go.
Under Haiti’s constitution, Mr. Martelly, who took office in 2011, must step down when his term ends Sunday. However, a runoff election to choose his successor was canceled amid street protests and political upheaval last month, leaving no alternate date for a vote and no plan for a democratic transition.
Now Mr. Martelly is suggesting that he may remain in office if there is no consensus on replacing him. That should be a non-starter, given his record of thuggish conduct, mismanagement and poor governance, his contempt for democratic processes, and his complicity in leading the country into its current dead end. Should Mr. Martelly be permitted to retain power, there is every reason to fear that Haiti, with its history of political turmoil, would be in danger of bloody upheaval. The international community cannot allow that to happen.
There are a number of conceivable exits from the stalemate. None of them would be easily arranged in the absence of strong institutions and trusted legal bodies in Haiti. Any chance of a peaceful resolution will require timely and assertive diplomacy by the Organization of American States, the United States and other influential international actors.
Continue reading Haiti urgently needs international help overcoming its political crisis
by Kim Ives. Originally posted to Counterpunch
On Friday, January 22, many thousands marched over ten miles up Port-au-Prince’s Delmas road to Pétionville then back down the Bourdon road to the capital’s central square to demand new elections and denounce a government ban on demonstrations that was to begin that midnight.
The marching, chanting multitude scared the daylights out of Haiti’s Pétionville elite, loudly pouring into the narrow, tony streets of the wealthy mountain enclave while young men scattered large rocks and telephone poles across roadways and set aflame cars and columns of tires.
The tumultuous day forced Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), six of whose nine members have now resigned in disgrace or disgust, to indefinitely cancel the third round of widely denounced elections, which had been scheduled for Jan 24.
Armored vehicles of the CIMO squads of Haiti’s national police shadowed the marchers on sidestreets throughout the afternoon, occasionally engaging them with shots in the air or teargas, but mostly they put out fires with their water canon trucks and made a show of force in front of ministries and embassies the marchers passed.
Despite the CEP’s announcement, the Haitian masses have continued marching in cities throughout Haiti on every day since last Friday’s historic march, emboldened by their victory and calling for the immediate departure of President Michel Martelly and the United Nations military occupation troops known as MINUSTAH.
Continue reading Tens of Thousands March in Haiti
by Reuters via Al Jazeera
A Haitian former coup leader wanted by the United States for smuggling cocaine called on his supporters on Sunday to resist “anarchists” who forced a presidential election to be canceled — a sign of deep polarization that could lead to more unrest.
The former mercenary, Guy Philippe, called for counterprotests and said he would not recognize any transitional government put in place when outgoing President Michel Martelly leaves office on Feb. 7 unless it was representative of the provinces.
“We are ready for war,” Philippe said. “We will divide the country.”
It was not clear how much support he can muster, but he remains popular in his southern stronghold of Grande-Anse, and the tone of his remarks points to the depth of polarization over the political crisis.
Haiti was due to choose Martelly’s replacement on Sunday, but the two-man race was postponed indefinitely after opposition candidate Jude Celestin refused to participate over alleged fraud that sparked anti-government protests and violence.
Some form of interim government is likely to be formed to oversee the election process.
Continue reading Ex–Haiti coup leader decries canceled presidential election