Presidential election in haiti: political power vacuum in the loop

The mandate of the interim president will not be extended because his predecessor opposes it. A successor is not in sight.

Supporters of the interim president demonstrate in Port-au-Prince Photo: ap

With the expiration of the term of interim President Jocelerme Privert on Tuesday of this week, the political crisis in Haiti has further intensified. Parliamentary supporters of President Michel Martelly, who left office in February, refuse to extend the interim president’s mandate.

Privert, then president of the Senate, had annulled the presidential election last October because of "massive falsifications" in the casting and counting of votes. The National Electoral Council set new elections for Oct. 9 this year.

Jovenel Moise, Michel Martelly’s henchman, won the first round of voting last year with 32.8 percent. The opposition politician Jude Celestin lost with 25.3 percent. After the election, he accused Martelly and his ruling party of electoral manipulation and refused to participate in a second round of voting. That Martelly supporters would try to prevent a repeat election had already become apparent over the weekend.

To open the new parliamentary week, the Parti Haitien Tèt Kal (PHTK) and former government politicians had called for demonstrations. While demonstrations caused chaos on the streets of Port-au-Prince, deputies from Martelly’s Bald Party and its allies blocked an extension of Privert’s interim mandate. They further refused to appoint another parliamentarian or member of the Senate. The parliament therefore merely stated on Wednesday that there was "no longer a president of the state."

The de facto parliamentary power vacuum deprives the transitional government appointed by Privert and the newly constituted electoral council of the power to act, thus calling into question the new elections. The Haitian cleanheads are seeking to have the results of last year’s elections recognized and to impose their own presidential candidate.

The planned new election in October is controversial

Statements by members of the UN, U.S. and EU election observers are grist to the mill of Martelly, who has repeatedly come under criticism for abuse of office and corruption. Despite certain errors and irregularities, the election results will not change, they said. Presumably, they are only afraid of the high additional costs of new elections. In total, the international community provided about $80 million. Just under three-quarters of this was spent on an election that turned out to be rigged after a partial recount.

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