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 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
by Jacqueline Charles. Originally posted by The Miami Herald
Amid escalating violent protests and attacks on electoral offices around the country, Haitian elections officials Friday afternoon abruptly canceled Sunday’s planned presidential and partial legislative runoffs.
“Jan. 24 is no longer opportune for having elections considering the threats against the electoral infrastructure and on the population who would have to go vote,” Pierre-Louis Opont, the president of the country’s beleaguered Provisional Electoral Council said in a five-minute 2 p.m. news conference at the council’s headquarters in Petionville.
Minutes earlier, officials had halted the distribution of ballots and other voting materials and began recovery of those that had already gone in day rapidly spiraling out of control as two more elections council member confirmed their pending resignation, and elections offices around the country came under violent attack.
The “violent acts” and the verbal threats against elections officials, left the council known as the CEP, with no choice, Opont said as he listed more than a dozen infrastructure that had either been set on fire, or where attempts were made. Among them, he said, was the communal electoral bureau in the northern city of Limbe. It was torched Friday morning. So was the private residence of the top elections official in the nearby city of Pignon.
Continue reading Haiti cancels presidential election as violence erupts