Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Will Haiti President’s “Evaluation Commission” Solve the Electoral Crisis?

Haiti President Michel Martelly has just announced the creation of a presidential commission to evaluate the elections. For weeks and weeks, Haitians (including presidential candidate) have called for an independent investigation into the fraud and irregularities that marred the first two rounds of elections. It is not clear that this commission meets those demands though.

Haiti Leader Forms Commission to Evaluate Elections

The Associated Press, The New York Times
December 17, 2015

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitian President Michel Martelly on Thursday ordered creation of a special commission to assess the country’s electoral process ahead of a scheduled Dec. 27 presidential and legislative runoff that opposition factions have threatened to derail because of deep suspicions of fraud.

Martelly, who has been ruling by decree since January, named five members to assess the electoral process over the next three days and then make recommendations to the Provisional Electoral Council and his government. He said they would have assistance from experts from the European Union and observers from the Organization of American States.

A broad array of rights groups, local election monitors and political factions has alleged that the Oct. 25 presidential and legislative elections were so badly marred by ballot tampering, multiple voting and other irregularities that their validity was in question.

The No. 2 finisher, Jude Celestin, has called the officially announced results a “ridiculous farce” and suggested he would boycott a runoff with the government-backed candidate who finished first unless a proper review of the elections was done and changes were made to the electoral council and police.

Celestin has not been campaigning in recent weeks, but hasn’t withdrawn from the runoff. The former state construction chief finished second in the initial round of presidential voting behind Martelly’s pick, political newcomer Jovenel Moise.

But the council that oversees the electoral process has rejected the demands, insisting it lacks authority to authorize any review of the results and saying the Dec. 27 date was firm.

Celestin, who has not been campaigning for the runoff, could not immediately be reached for his response to Martelly’s decree.

It was not clear how the members of the evaluation commission were chosen or what the precise scope of their review would be. Martelly said his “commission of evaluation” would be tasked with recommending measures to “ensure transparency and credibility of the electoral process.”

The panel includes Patrick Aris of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, which has been sharply critical of this year’s elections, as well as Rosny Desroches, director of a Haitian observer group, and former Port-au-Prince Mayor Joseph Emmanuel Charlemagne.

The two presidential candidates expected to compete in the runoff could have a representative monitor the commission’s work, according to the presidential decree.

The order came hours after Prime Minister Evans Paul posted a statement on his Twitter account saying he had urged Martelly to order such a study.

The sudden formation of the commission came a day after parliamentary opposition candidate Gerald Jean and other office-seekers told Haitian radio stations that they were approached to shell out bribes to council members and judges in an electoral court to pave the way for a legislative seat.

It also came on the heels of an appeal by the 10 sitting members of Haiti’s Senate for Martelly to use a constitutional article to prevent electoral authorities from issuing final results for legislative races until a review panel could be set up to verify the integrity of elections.

Mosler Georges, executive director of the electoral council, said earlier this week that it planned to release overdue legislative results on Thursday.

Moise has dismissed accusations of fraud in his favor and told reporters Wednesday that the electoral process must continue. Martelly is prohibited by the constitution from seeking a consecutive term.


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