Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

The following is the introduction to an investigative report conducted by independent researcher Mark Snyder entitled “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse at the Hands of the United Nation’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti.” The full report is available here

Investigative Overview

A preliminary independent investigation conducted in areas close to existing or abandoned bases for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) brings to light the alarming magnitude of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) at the hands of United Nations personnel in Haiti. The purpose of this investigation is to determine if the initial unreported cases brought to the attention of the author were isolated incidents or are instead a result of a systemic problem present in the UN’s mission in Haiti. In consultation with Haitian civil society partners, the following report considers that a further, in-depth investigation into these abuses is vital and urgent.

The results of our investigation strongly suggest that the issue of SEA by United Nations personnel in Haiti is substantial and has been grossly underreported. Using the same methodology in all areas where MINUSTAH bases are or have been located[i], a thorough and in-depth investigation would be expected to identify close to 600 victims who would agree to in-person interviews. This number in itself indicates a victim count that requires immediate attention and significant modifications to current MINUSTAH peacekeeping operations, including with regard to the manner in which UN SEA cases are investigated and reported. These preliminary findings are based on the work of one investigator during 27 days of investigation. Through a network of community contacts in eight areas where there currently is, or where there has been a MINUSTAH base, the investigation identified 42 UN SEA victims who agreed to be interviewed. With a professional investigative team, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise and the resources to cover the entire country, the likely number of documented UN SEA allegations from victims would be expected to be significantly higher.

The UN Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU), under the Department of Field Services (DFS) documented 75 total allegations of UN SEA countrywide in Haiti[ii] from 2008-2015. In comparison, 40 of the 42 victims interviewed within the limited scope of this independent investigation allegedly suffered sexual exploitation perpetrated by UN personnel during this same time period. Of the remaining two individuals: one stated she was first a victim in 2005, and the exploitation occurred repeatedly until 2015. The other was a victim of a single incident prior to 2008. Only four of the 42 said they had previously reported the SEA in some manner to the UN, suggesting that the magnitude of the problem may be dramatically underestimated by the CDU. The victims we spoke to were not made aware of whether their cases were included in the 75 total allegations documented by the CDU. All four victims stated they were not satisfied with the subsequent investigatory process or its results.

In comparison to the CDU’s 75 total allegations, the estimated total possible victims of SEA – during the years 2008-2015 – based on an extrapolation of the results of our investigation – is 564. Again, this is an estimate derived from the findings of a single investigator and based only on allegations from those who agreed to meet and be interviewed.

The preliminary results of our investigation show that actions taken, such as the creation of the CDU and the extensive efforts with the three pillars of prevention of misconduct, enforcement of UN standards of conduct, and remedial action, do not appear to have been adequate in preventing further SEA perpetrated by MINUSTAH personnel. These efforts have failed to interrupt a persistent cycle of exploitation and abuse followed by UN statements of regret and reform, and then additional incidents of SEA.

The UN has stated in numerous publications that while there has been an approximately 50 percent increase in UN peacekeeping personnel in the world, the number of SEA accusations has been steadily decreasing.[iii] However, within the seemingly disconnected array of the UN’s SEA reporting and response mechanisms[iv], wide concern is expressed by UN personnel about the validity of the official numbers of UN SEA allegations. Many suspect that the numbers and their decline do not accurately reflect the occurrences of exploitation and abuse.[v] The results of this investigation thus far have shown that in Haiti, as UN personnel suspected, this downward trend of accusations is not due to decreased levels of UN SEA, but instead is caused by a reduction in victims’ reporting of these acts.

The reforms and initiatives that have been taken over the years since MINUSTAH’s 2004 inception appear to be inadequate to prevent UN SEA and fail to encourage victims to come forward. For these reasons, we strongly suggests that a professional independent investigation, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise in sexual exploitation and abuse, be undertaken in Haiti at all locations that currently have or have had MINUSTAH bases so to determine the level of sexual exploitiation and abuse by United Nations’ personnel. In order for MINUSTAH to fulfill its mandate of assisting Haiti with the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law and support efforts to “promote and protect human rights, particularly of women and children, in order to ensure individual accountability for human rights abuses and redress for victims”[vi], UN SEA victims must not remain hidden in the shadows. Instead, their existence must be officially recognized, and their voices must be a part of the discussion on the necessary reforms to the UN peacekeeping system.

Introduction

Sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel in Haiti has been extensively documented since MINUSTAH’s founding in 2004.[vii] Notably, two years after the UN openly recognized SEA by UN peacekeepers as a problem[viii] and sanctioned the 2005 UN Zeid report focusing on UN SEA and describing specific actions to be taken to eliminate future abuse[ix], investigations in Haiti uncovered that the mission’s peacekeepers from Sri Lanka were committing extensive sexual exploitation and abuse including rape and transactional sex. This led to a reported 114 soldier repatriations, a move presented as a model for other UN peacekeeping missions. Of those repatriated to Sri Lanka, none of the perpetrators were criminally prosecuted in their home country[x]. In response to the scandal, the UN assured that they remained committed to both to the zero-tolerance policy on SEA and to best practices in peacekeeping.[xi] Other highly visible cases, such as the repeated rape and subsequent kidnapping of a young special-needs boy by peacekeepers in Goniave, Haiti[xii], caused the mission to express outrage and the official response was that the mission would take their responsibility in dealing with abuses by UN personnel extremely seriously.[xiii]

But in reality, immunity from Haitian prosecution for SEA crimes prevails and the United Nations has little more than administrative control over the military contingents and UN Police (UNPOL) that comprise their mission.[xiv] For violations involving military personnel, investigations and criminal prosecutions are left to the troop-contributing countries (TCC). UNPOL and other civilian personnel are investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), but again this leaves the UN with administrative sanctions as their only recourse. Prosecution of crimes is left to the home countries of the officers or civilians.[xv] This reality leaves victims with very few options to seek justice[xvi].

Sexual exploitation and abuse scandals have made their way to the public eye throughout the mission’s tenure, but the true levels of UN SEA and the number of victims remain largely hidden from view. Perpetrators are often militarily armed individuals in significant positions of power in the middle of an extremely vulnerable population. They are from outside of the victims’ known community and are untouchable by the Haitian system of justice or other traditional methods of recourse or of possible support. Fear of reprisal is an understandable concern for victims. Coupled with these barriers and the belief that reporting a case will bring social stigmatization more than real solutions, it is highly unlikely that victims will bring cases forward to officials. SEA victims remain largely in the shadows, which is reflected in UN documents and in “the preoccupation of all (the UN) systems put in place for SEA (which) is more focused on UN personnel than on victims” and their well being[xvii]. The 2013 Secretary General’s appointed team of SEA experts who visited Haiti in 2013, stated, “Overall, there was noted a culture of enforcement avoidance, with managers feeling powerless to enforce anti-SEA rules, a culture of silence around reporting and discussing cases, (…) and little accorded to the rights of the victim.”[xviii]

Instead of providing support, the current UN systems present additional obstacles for SEA victims, many of whom have been subjected to traumatic and extremely violent sexual crimes.


The full report is available here

The following is the introduction to an investigative report conducted by independent researcher Mark Snyder entitled “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse at the Hands of the United Nation’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti.” The full report is available here

Investigative Overview

A preliminary independent investigation conducted in areas close to existing or abandoned bases for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) brings to light the alarming magnitude of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) at the hands of United Nations personnel in Haiti. The purpose of this investigation is to determine if the initial unreported cases brought to the attention of the author were isolated incidents or are instead a result of a systemic problem present in the UN’s mission in Haiti. In consultation with Haitian civil society partners, the following report considers that a further, in-depth investigation into these abuses is vital and urgent.

The results of our investigation strongly suggest that the issue of SEA by United Nations personnel in Haiti is substantial and has been grossly underreported. Using the same methodology in all areas where MINUSTAH bases are or have been located[i], a thorough and in-depth investigation would be expected to identify close to 600 victims who would agree to in-person interviews. This number in itself indicates a victim count that requires immediate attention and significant modifications to current MINUSTAH peacekeeping operations, including with regard to the manner in which UN SEA cases are investigated and reported. These preliminary findings are based on the work of one investigator during 27 days of investigation. Through a network of community contacts in eight areas where there currently is, or where there has been a MINUSTAH base, the investigation identified 42 UN SEA victims who agreed to be interviewed. With a professional investigative team, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise and the resources to cover the entire country, the likely number of documented UN SEA allegations from victims would be expected to be significantly higher.

The UN Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU), under the Department of Field Services (DFS) documented 75 total allegations of UN SEA countrywide in Haiti[ii] from 2008-2015. In comparison, 40 of the 42 victims interviewed within the limited scope of this independent investigation allegedly suffered sexual exploitation perpetrated by UN personnel during this same time period. Of the remaining two individuals: one stated she was first a victim in 2005, and the exploitation occurred repeatedly until 2015. The other was a victim of a single incident prior to 2008. Only four of the 42 said they had previously reported the SEA in some manner to the UN, suggesting that the magnitude of the problem may be dramatically underestimated by the CDU. The victims we spoke to were not made aware of whether their cases were included in the 75 total allegations documented by the CDU. All four victims stated they were not satisfied with the subsequent investigatory process or its results.

In comparison to the CDU’s 75 total allegations, the estimated total possible victims of SEA – during the years 2008-2015 – based on an extrapolation of the results of our investigation – is 564. Again, this is an estimate derived from the findings of a single investigator and based only on allegations from those who agreed to meet and be interviewed.

The preliminary results of our investigation show that actions taken, such as the creation of the CDU and the extensive efforts with the three pillars of prevention of misconduct, enforcement of UN standards of conduct, and remedial action, do not appear to have been adequate in preventing further SEA perpetrated by MINUSTAH personnel. These efforts have failed to interrupt a persistent cycle of exploitation and abuse followed by UN statements of regret and reform, and then additional incidents of SEA.

The UN has stated in numerous publications that while there has been an approximately 50 percent increase in UN peacekeeping personnel in the world, the number of SEA accusations has been steadily decreasing.[iii] However, within the seemingly disconnected array of the UN’s SEA reporting and response mechanisms[iv], wide concern is expressed by UN personnel about the validity of the official numbers of UN SEA allegations. Many suspect that the numbers and their decline do not accurately reflect the occurrences of exploitation and abuse.[v] The results of this investigation thus far have shown that in Haiti, as UN personnel suspected, this downward trend of accusations is not due to decreased levels of UN SEA, but instead is caused by a reduction in victims’ reporting of these acts.

The reforms and initiatives that have been taken over the years since MINUSTAH’s 2004 inception appear to be inadequate to prevent UN SEA and fail to encourage victims to come forward. For these reasons, we strongly suggests that a professional independent investigation, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise in sexual exploitation and abuse, be undertaken in Haiti at all locations that currently have or have had MINUSTAH bases so to determine the level of sexual exploitiation and abuse by United Nations’ personnel. In order for MINUSTAH to fulfill its mandate of assisting Haiti with the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law and support efforts to “promote and protect human rights, particularly of women and children, in order to ensure individual accountability for human rights abuses and redress for victims”[vi], UN SEA victims must not remain hidden in the shadows. Instead, their existence must be officially recognized, and their voices must be a part of the discussion on the necessary reforms to the UN peacekeeping system.

Introduction

Sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel in Haiti has been extensively documented since MINUSTAH’s founding in 2004.[vii] Notably, two years after the UN openly recognized SEA by UN peacekeepers as a problem[viii] and sanctioned the 2005 UN Zeid report focusing on UN SEA and describing specific actions to be taken to eliminate future abuse[ix], investigations in Haiti uncovered that the mission’s peacekeepers from Sri Lanka were committing extensive sexual exploitation and abuse including rape and transactional sex. This led to a reported 114 soldier repatriations, a move presented as a model for other UN peacekeeping missions. Of those repatriated to Sri Lanka, none of the perpetrators were criminally prosecuted in their home country[x]. In response to the scandal, the UN assured that they remained committed to both to the zero-tolerance policy on SEA and to best practices in peacekeeping.[xi] Other highly visible cases, such as the repeated rape and subsequent kidnapping of a young special-needs boy by peacekeepers in Goniave, Haiti[xii], caused the mission to express outrage and the official response was that the mission would take their responsibility in dealing with abuses by UN personnel extremely seriously.[xiii]

But in reality, immunity from Haitian prosecution for SEA crimes prevails and the United Nations has little more than administrative control over the military contingents and UN Police (UNPOL) that comprise their mission.[xiv] For violations involving military personnel, investigations and criminal prosecutions are left to the troop-contributing countries (TCC). UNPOL and other civilian personnel are investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), but again this leaves the UN with administrative sanctions as their only recourse. Prosecution of crimes is left to the home countries of the officers or civilians.[xv] This reality leaves victims with very few options to seek justice[xvi].

Sexual exploitation and abuse scandals have made their way to the public eye throughout the mission’s tenure, but the true levels of UN SEA and the number of victims remain largely hidden from view. Perpetrators are often militarily armed individuals in significant positions of power in the middle of an extremely vulnerable population. They are from outside of the victims’ known community and are untouchable by the Haitian system of justice or other traditional methods of recourse or of possible support. Fear of reprisal is an understandable concern for victims. Coupled with these barriers and the belief that reporting a case will bring social stigmatization more than real solutions, it is highly unlikely that victims will bring cases forward to officials. SEA victims remain largely in the shadows, which is reflected in UN documents and in “the preoccupation of all (the UN) systems put in place for SEA (which) is more focused on UN personnel than on victims” and their well being[xvii]. The 2013 Secretary General’s appointed team of SEA experts who visited Haiti in 2013, stated, “Overall, there was noted a culture of enforcement avoidance, with managers feeling powerless to enforce anti-SEA rules, a culture of silence around reporting and discussing cases, (…) and little accorded to the rights of the victim.”[xviii]

Instead of providing support, the current UN systems present additional obstacles for SEA victims, many of whom have been subjected to traumatic and extremely violent sexual crimes.


The full report is available here

Jovenel Moïse will be inaugurated as Haiti’s new president today as the country returns to constitutional order after a one-year extra-constitutional period of interim rule due to electoral delays.  Moïse had previously come in first in an October 2015 election, only to have the results thrown out due to fraud. Rerun in November 2016 under the interim government that replaced former president Michel Martelly, the elections had Moïse securing more than 50 percent of the vote, winning in the first round.

But serious questions continue to dog Moïse as he takes office. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reports:

Since his win, Moïse has been on a countrywide tour, celebrating his victory, endorsing candidates for the recently held local elections — and battling money-laundering suspicions.

Moïse has dismissed the suspicions as the work of political opponents. The probe began in 2013 under Martelly’s administration when the anti-financial crimes unit was tipped off about a suspicious bank transaction, the current head of the unit, Sonel Jean-François, has said.

Over the weekend, an investigative judge assigned to the case sent his findings to the government prosecutor, but the judge’s order has not been made public. Government prosecutor Danton Léger has yet to say whether he will dismiss the case, send it back to the judge for further review, or prosecute Moïse.

Should he seek to prosecute Moïse, Haiti could find itself in an even deeper crisis than the one triggered by the annulled October 2015 presidential elections.

In a 7-page letter dated February 6, Leger, the government prosecutor, requested further information on the allegations against Moïse, ensuring it will continue to hang over the new president.

The money laundering allegations, however, are far from the only topic overshadowing Moïse’s inauguration today. A new report on Haiti’s November elections, from international legal observers, has raised questions as to how effective the new administration may be given the historically low turnout. The report’s authors also note that Haiti’s national identity office was hindered by significant problems, affecting the ability of Haitians to vote:

The report notes that despite many improvements in security and electoral administration over the 2015 elections, the 21 percent voter turnout represents the lowest participation rate for a national election in the Western Hemisphere since 1945. “Many Haitians did not vote, not because they did not want to, but because they were unable due to difficulties in obtaining electoral cards, registering to vote and finding their names on outdated electoral lists,” said attorney Nicole Phillips, delegation leader and co-author of the report.

The report documents how many would-be voters were disenfranchised on November 20, due to pervasive errors on electoral lists, difficulties accessing identity cards, and lack of voter education. Haitian electoral authorities also failed to take adequate measures against fraudulent voting. Prior to the election, the head of the National Identification Office (ONI) admitted that 2.4 million activated but undistributed cards had gone missing, which opened the door to fraud via trafficked identity cards.

The report’s authors also note with concern that Moïse could follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, former president Michel Martelly, who surrounded himself with figures from the Duvalier dictatorship and was criticized by human rights groups for his intimidation of journalists and imprisonment of opposition activists. “With a majority in parliament, the temptation for President Moïse to run roughshod over any opposition will be great,” said Brian Concannon, the executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which published the report with the National Lawyers Guild and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. “But with the backing of only 9.6 percent of registered voters, the incoming president will face serious limits to his popular mandate.”

The report points out that the collapse in electoral participation has occurred while the international community has made “massive investments” in Haiti’s electoral apparatus:

A decade of elections marked by violence, vote-rigging, disenfranchisement, and repeated foreign interventions have dashed the high hopes of the post-Duvalier years and bred a deep disillusionment with democracy, according to the report. Paradoxically, falling participation rates have occurred alongside massive investments by the international community in Haiti’s electoral apparatus. Brian Concannon Jr … notes, “the millions spent by the United States and other Core Group countries on democracy promotion programs have produced an electoral system that is weaker, less trusted and more exclusionary than what came before.”

The full report can be read here.

With the election of Donald Trump in the United States, observers have been watching for a change in US policy towards Haiti. The US has been seen as backing Moïse and his predecessor Martelly since Hillary Clinton’s intervention in the 2010-2011 elections led to Martelly’s presidency. Yesterday, however, the Trump administration announced a delegation to Haiti for Moïse’s inauguration consisting of Thomas Shannon, Kenneth Merten and current ambassador Peter Mulrean, three Obama-era State Department holdovers. Also accompanying them was Omarosa Manigault, a communications advisor to Trump and former reality TV star.

In an interview last week, Jovenel Moïse told Reuters that he hoped his shared background with Trump as businessmen would help lead to stronger relations between the two countries. “President Trump and I are entrepreneurs, and all an entrepreneur wants is results,” Moïse told Reuters, “and therefore I hope we’ll put everything in place to make sure we deliver for our peoples.”

Jovenel Moïse will be inaugurated as Haiti’s new president today as the country returns to constitutional order after a one-year extra-constitutional period of interim rule due to electoral delays.  Moïse had previously come in first in an October 2015 election, only to have the results thrown out due to fraud. Rerun in November 2016 under the interim government that replaced former president Michel Martelly, the elections had Moïse securing more than 50 percent of the vote, winning in the first round.

But serious questions continue to dog Moïse as he takes office. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reports:

Since his win, Moïse has been on a countrywide tour, celebrating his victory, endorsing candidates for the recently held local elections — and battling money-laundering suspicions.

Moïse has dismissed the suspicions as the work of political opponents. The probe began in 2013 under Martelly’s administration when the anti-financial crimes unit was tipped off about a suspicious bank transaction, the current head of the unit, Sonel Jean-François, has said.

Over the weekend, an investigative judge assigned to the case sent his findings to the government prosecutor, but the judge’s order has not been made public. Government prosecutor Danton Léger has yet to say whether he will dismiss the case, send it back to the judge for further review, or prosecute Moïse.

Should he seek to prosecute Moïse, Haiti could find itself in an even deeper crisis than the one triggered by the annulled October 2015 presidential elections.

In a 7-page letter dated February 6, Leger, the government prosecutor, requested further information on the allegations against Moïse, ensuring it will continue to hang over the new president.

The money laundering allegations, however, are far from the only topic overshadowing Moïse’s inauguration today. A new report on Haiti’s November elections, from international legal observers, has raised questions as to how effective the new administration may be given the historically low turnout. The report’s authors also note that Haiti’s national identity office was hindered by significant problems, affecting the ability of Haitians to vote:

The report notes that despite many improvements in security and electoral administration over the 2015 elections, the 21 percent voter turnout represents the lowest participation rate for a national election in the Western Hemisphere since 1945. “Many Haitians did not vote, not because they did not want to, but because they were unable due to difficulties in obtaining electoral cards, registering to vote and finding their names on outdated electoral lists,” said attorney Nicole Phillips, delegation leader and co-author of the report.

The report documents how many would-be voters were disenfranchised on November 20, due to pervasive errors on electoral lists, difficulties accessing identity cards, and lack of voter education. Haitian electoral authorities also failed to take adequate measures against fraudulent voting. Prior to the election, the head of the National Identification Office (ONI) admitted that 2.4 million activated but undistributed cards had gone missing, which opened the door to fraud via trafficked identity cards.

The report’s authors also note with concern that Moïse could follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, former president Michel Martelly, who surrounded himself with figures from the Duvalier dictatorship and was criticized by human rights groups for his intimidation of journalists and imprisonment of opposition activists. “With a majority in parliament, the temptation for President Moïse to run roughshod over any opposition will be great,” said Brian Concannon, the executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which published the report with the National Lawyers Guild and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. “But with the backing of only 9.6 percent of registered voters, the incoming president will face serious limits to his popular mandate.”

The report points out that the collapse in electoral participation has occurred while the international community has made “massive investments” in Haiti’s electoral apparatus:

A decade of elections marked by violence, vote-rigging, disenfranchisement, and repeated foreign interventions have dashed the high hopes of the post-Duvalier years and bred a deep disillusionment with democracy, according to the report. Paradoxically, falling participation rates have occurred alongside massive investments by the international community in Haiti’s electoral apparatus. Brian Concannon Jr … notes, “the millions spent by the United States and other Core Group countries on democracy promotion programs have produced an electoral system that is weaker, less trusted and more exclusionary than what came before.”

The full report can be read here.

With the election of Donald Trump in the United States, observers have been watching for a change in US policy towards Haiti. The US has been seen as backing Moïse and his predecessor Martelly since Hillary Clinton’s intervention in the 2010-2011 elections led to Martelly’s presidency. Yesterday, however, the Trump administration announced a delegation to Haiti for Moïse’s inauguration consisting of Thomas Shannon, Kenneth Merten and current ambassador Peter Mulrean, three Obama-era State Department holdovers. Also accompanying them was Omarosa Manigault, a communications advisor to Trump and former reality TV star.

In an interview last week, Jovenel Moïse told Reuters that he hoped his shared background with Trump as businessmen would help lead to stronger relations between the two countries. “President Trump and I are entrepreneurs, and all an entrepreneur wants is results,” Moïse told Reuters, “and therefore I hope we’ll put everything in place to make sure we deliver for our peoples.”

To mark the 7th anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a number of organizations belonging to the Haiti Advocacy Working Group released the following statement. For a full list of sponsoring organizations, click here

January 12, 2017 – Washington, DC –  On the seventh anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes and humanitarian organizations would like to honor those who lost their lives in the earthquake, as well as those who lost their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is the result of human policies, which can be changed. As the election crisis comes to an end, and President-elect Jovenel Moise is set to take office on February 7, 2017, there’s a unique opportunity for sustained change now.

January 12, 2010 Earthquake

The earthquake and the more than 59 aftershocks that followed took the lives of an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people, displaced 1,300,000, and directly affected 3,000,000. Despite the billions in aid offered, thousands remain homeless. As of September 2016, the International Migration Organization (IOM) estimated 55,000 people remain in spontaneous or organized camps. For hundreds of thousands of other Haitians “Building Back Better” left them in precarious ‘permanent’ housing vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change to which Haiti is ranked one of the most vulnerable countries.

Hurricane Matthew on October 4, 2016

The Category 4 Hurricane with winds reaching up to 145 mph tore through the country, causing widespread destruction of buildings, agriculture, infrastructure and human lives, directly affecting 1,400,000 people, taking an estimated 546 lives, displacing 175,500, and pushing 806,000 into extreme food insecurity.

The Haitian government, along with civil society, responded to Matthew with prior evacuations and warnings. Various Haitian agencies are now coordinating the hurricane response with civil society actors and international agencies, but funding is greatly needed. The government and UN’s Flash Appeal for $21 million to provide food assistance to 800,000 people over three months still lacks 44 percent of the needed funds.

Many Matthew victims continue to live in temporary shelters or shelters pieced together with scrap aluminum, tarps, and wood. Approximately 750,000 Haitians are without safe water, causing the number of cholera cases to double in some of the hardest-hit areas. An estimated 80-100 percent of the crops and 50 percent of livestock were destroyed in the country’s south and southwest. These livestock not only provide food, but are the savings bank for many who reside in the countryside – producing a decapitalization in rural Haiti reminiscent of the 1980’s Kreyol Pig eradication.

The devastation of the 2016 hurricane season follows on the heels of the worst drought Haiti has seen in 15 years. The opportunity to replant certain crops during winter planting season was largely missed due to insufficient access to seeds. The ripples of this are felt across the country with the Grand Anse department, the ‘bread basket’ producing 60 percent of the locally produced food. The damage to the Grand Anse renders communities dependent on imported food and increased food prices by 15 – 25 percent.

Haiti’s Future

Although the earthquake, drought and hurricane may make Haiti appear condemned to suffer from natural disasters, in fact the country’s extreme vulnerability to natural disasters is the product of human policies that can be reversed. The international community has today a unique opportunity to support Haiti in breaking free from its cycle of extreme vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, and to move away from aid dependency.

In the short-term, houses, hospitals, roads and schools still must be rebuilt. Haiti also urgently needs support to control and respond to the surging cholera crisis that took 420 lives and sickened 39,329 in 2016 alone. The UN’s new two-track cholera response announced December 1, 2016, promises to reduce cholera transmission and improve access to care and treatment. If funded, the response should control the outbreak in Matthew-affected areas as well as other parts of the country, and also promises to provide material assistance to victims of the epidemic introduced by UN peacekeepers in 2010.

The international community must also be reliable over the long term. A key priority must be to fully fund the UN’s cholera response, which proposes to build the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to eliminate cholera from the country over the next 10-15 years. Haiti will also need reforestation and crop support to ensure long-term food security and address environmental degradation and climate change. Furthermore, ongoing support for disaster mitigation and preparedness is badly needed. Preparation is by far the best form of disaster response.

We encourage greater accountability and transparency of international actors in Haiti. With President-elect Jovenel Moise set to take office on February 7, 2017, any intervention in Haiti must reinforce the capacity of the government and local institutions, and include participation in project design and execution from aid recipients. This type of approach will make aid more effective and sustainable, and allow Haitians to move towards autonomy.

In solidarity with the grief suffered by families of victims of the 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew, we honor the memories of those who have passed by translating lessons into action. We can and must do better to address the current humanitarian, food and climate crisis.

To mark the 7th anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a number of organizations belonging to the Haiti Advocacy Working Group released the following statement. For a full list of sponsoring organizations, click here

January 12, 2017 – Washington, DC –  On the seventh anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes and humanitarian organizations would like to honor those who lost their lives in the earthquake, as well as those who lost their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is the result of human policies, which can be changed. As the election crisis comes to an end, and President-elect Jovenel Moise is set to take office on February 7, 2017, there’s a unique opportunity for sustained change now.

January 12, 2010 Earthquake

The earthquake and the more than 59 aftershocks that followed took the lives of an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people, displaced 1,300,000, and directly affected 3,000,000. Despite the billions in aid offered, thousands remain homeless. As of September 2016, the International Migration Organization (IOM) estimated 55,000 people remain in spontaneous or organized camps. For hundreds of thousands of other Haitians “Building Back Better” left them in precarious ‘permanent’ housing vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change to which Haiti is ranked one of the most vulnerable countries.

Hurricane Matthew on October 4, 2016

The Category 4 Hurricane with winds reaching up to 145 mph tore through the country, causing widespread destruction of buildings, agriculture, infrastructure and human lives, directly affecting 1,400,000 people, taking an estimated 546 lives, displacing 175,500, and pushing 806,000 into extreme food insecurity.

The Haitian government, along with civil society, responded to Matthew with prior evacuations and warnings. Various Haitian agencies are now coordinating the hurricane response with civil society actors and international agencies, but funding is greatly needed. The government and UN’s Flash Appeal for $21 million to provide food assistance to 800,000 people over three months still lacks 44 percent of the needed funds.

Many Matthew victims continue to live in temporary shelters or shelters pieced together with scrap aluminum, tarps, and wood. Approximately 750,000 Haitians are without safe water, causing the number of cholera cases to double in some of the hardest-hit areas. An estimated 80-100 percent of the crops and 50 percent of livestock were destroyed in the country’s south and southwest. These livestock not only provide food, but are the savings bank for many who reside in the countryside – producing a decapitalization in rural Haiti reminiscent of the 1980’s Kreyol Pig eradication.

The devastation of the 2016 hurricane season follows on the heels of the worst drought Haiti has seen in 15 years. The opportunity to replant certain crops during winter planting season was largely missed due to insufficient access to seeds. The ripples of this are felt across the country with the Grand Anse department, the ‘bread basket’ producing 60 percent of the locally produced food. The damage to the Grand Anse renders communities dependent on imported food and increased food prices by 15 – 25 percent.

Haiti’s Future

Although the earthquake, drought and hurricane may make Haiti appear condemned to suffer from natural disasters, in fact the country’s extreme vulnerability to natural disasters is the product of human policies that can be reversed. The international community has today a unique opportunity to support Haiti in breaking free from its cycle of extreme vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, and to move away from aid dependency.

In the short-term, houses, hospitals, roads and schools still must be rebuilt. Haiti also urgently needs support to control and respond to the surging cholera crisis that took 420 lives and sickened 39,329 in 2016 alone. The UN’s new two-track cholera response announced December 1, 2016, promises to reduce cholera transmission and improve access to care and treatment. If funded, the response should control the outbreak in Matthew-affected areas as well as other parts of the country, and also promises to provide material assistance to victims of the epidemic introduced by UN peacekeepers in 2010.

The international community must also be reliable over the long term. A key priority must be to fully fund the UN’s cholera response, which proposes to build the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to eliminate cholera from the country over the next 10-15 years. Haiti will also need reforestation and crop support to ensure long-term food security and address environmental degradation and climate change. Furthermore, ongoing support for disaster mitigation and preparedness is badly needed. Preparation is by far the best form of disaster response.

We encourage greater accountability and transparency of international actors in Haiti. With President-elect Jovenel Moise set to take office on February 7, 2017, any intervention in Haiti must reinforce the capacity of the government and local institutions, and include participation in project design and execution from aid recipients. This type of approach will make aid more effective and sustainable, and allow Haitians to move towards autonomy.

In solidarity with the grief suffered by families of victims of the 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew, we honor the memories of those who have passed by translating lessons into action. We can and must do better to address the current humanitarian, food and climate crisis.

UPDATE 1/6/2017: The federal indictment against Philippe has been unsealed. It is available here

Guy Philippe, a paramilitary coup leader and DEA most-wanted fugitive who was elected to Haiti’s Senate late last year, was arrested on Thursday, just days before he would have been sworn into office and obtained immunity. Philippe has been wanted under a sealed drug indictment in the United States for years, but previous attempts at arresting him failed. Last year, the DEA confirmed to me that they maintained “apprehension authority” for Philippe, but would not confirm if any active efforts were underway to do so. He will now be extradited to the United States to face charges, though no indictment has been unsealed as of Thursday night.

Although Philippe has spent most of the past decade in Haiti’s rural Grand Anse department where he maintains strict control, he became more active in the country’s politics over the past year as he campaigned for senator. President-elect Jovenel Moise, from the PHTK party, openly campaigned with Philippe and his party allied with Philippe’s early in 2016. A PHTK adviser, Renald Luberice, tweeted shortly after the arrest that it was “illegal and arbitrary.” Fires and roadblocks almost immediately went up in Phillipe’s hometown and surrounding areas, according to local news reports.

After last year’s elections were scrapped due to fraud and Michel Martelly left office without an elected successor, Philippe became one of the most outspoken critics of the new interim government that took over. In February 2016, he threatened “civil war” if elections were not held by that April. In May, with elections still yet to occur, Philippe was alleged to be the ringleader of an armed raid on a police station in Les Cayes, in southern Haiti. Elections were eventually held in November 2016 and Philippe won a seat in the Senate, representing the Grand Anse department. Parties allied with PHTK and Philippe will make up the majority of the incoming parliament to be sworn in next week.

Over the summer, a source close to the Haitian government, who requested anonymity, suggested that the US would move against Philippe before he became Senator to “send a message” to the incoming parliament, which includes other figures accused of corruption and drug trafficking. Now that appears to have happened, but not before he helped his allies secure an electoral victory this past November.

Philippe, however, is widely believed to have been involved in murders, atrocities and other human rights abuses over the past 20 years, while serving a political agenda backed by Haiti’s elite and their international allies. He received training by the US military while a cadet in Ecuador in the early 90s before returning to Haiti in 1995. However former president Jean Bertrand Aristide had disbanded the military that same year, due its long history of involvement in atrocities, human rights abuses and coup d’etats. Philippe, who has, in his own words, “always dreamed of becoming a soldier,” instead became police chief in the Delmas neighborhood of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. During his tenure, according to Human Rights Watch, “dozens of suspected gang members were summarily executed, mainly by police under the command of Inspector Berthony Bazile, Philippe’s deputy.”

In 2000, Philippe was accused of orchestrating an attempted coup d’etat against president Rene Preval, but before he could be apprehended he fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic. At first, the Dominican authorities told the Haitian government they would help arrest the fugitive police officer and his allies. According to a former Haitian government official, who requested anonymity, Dominican police apprehended Philippe and were set to hand him over to Haitian authorities, but later reversed themselves. Philippe would remain free until this Thursday.

From his safe-haven in the Dominican Republic, Philippe was accused of leading attacks on Haitian police stations and supporters of president Aristide, who had just been elected for a second time. In an interview with author Peter Hallward, Philippe denied his involvement but added, “don’t worry, when the time is right people will learn what really happened.” At the time, the Aristide administration was under attack both internally and externally. A “civil society” group calling itself the Group of 184, led by Evans Paul, Andy Apaid and Reginald Boulos among others (all now political allies or financiers of PHTK), advocated for Aristide’s ouster. Philippe, when asked about the role of the Group of 184 in the various police station assaults, responded, “I know that certain political leaders and representatives of civil society can help you with this, since they know everything about what happened … Since they’re cowards, however, they’ll just tell you that they know nothing about it.”

Meanwhile, the US and other international lenders froze assistance to the newly elected government, squeezing the Aristide administration and contributing to a rapid decline in living standards. Stanley Lucas, now an advisor to PHTK, but at the time working for the US International Republican Institute, was actively supporting the opposition. According to a 2006 report in the New York Times, Lucas led a training of the opposition in the Dominican Republic in 2003. At the time, Philippe was also at the hotel and met Lucas, though he denies they talked politics. Philippe also said he met with Lucas while in exile in Ecuador in 2000 and 2001 and that they were “good friends.”

In 2004, Philippe had joined with former members of the Haitian military, and led a paramilitary assault on the country with the stated aim of toppling the Aristide administration. Before his forces could reach the capital, Aristide was flown out of the country on a US airplane. It was February 29, 2004, Guy Philippe’s 36th birthday.

Philippe ran for president in 2006, receiving less than 2 percent of the vote. The DEA led a high-profile raid in 2007 seeking to arrest the paramilitary leader, but former Haitian government officials have questioned the US commitment to apprehending Philippe, describing the previous efforts involving helicopters and large shows of force as “theater.”

Philippe’s political ambitions got a shot in the arm with the election of Michel Martelly in 2010. The new president was a natural ally for Philippe, as Martelly made the restoration of the military a key part of the platform of PHTK, his new political party. When elections were held in 2015, the first under Martelly, restrictions on candidates’ ability to register were lifted, and Philippe declared his intention to run for Senator. The Miami Herald dubbed the likely incoming parliament “Legal Bandits,” a riff on a popular Martelly song.

Asked last summer if the US had any reaction to Philippe’s senate candidacy, US Special Coordinator for Haiti Ken Merten responded, “Haiti’s authorities must hold its own citizens accountable for any kind of election-related intimidation, violence, or threat to the stability of the country.” He dismissed questions about Philippe likely taking a seat in the Senate as “hypothetical positing.” However, with Philippe set to be sworn in on Monday — which could put up new obstacles to arrest in the form of immunity  —  the US apparently decided to act.

UPDATE 1/6/2017: The federal indictment against Philippe has been unsealed. It is available here

Guy Philippe, a paramilitary coup leader and DEA most-wanted fugitive who was elected to Haiti’s Senate late last year, was arrested on Thursday, just days before he would have been sworn into office and obtained immunity. Philippe has been wanted under a sealed drug indictment in the United States for years, but previous attempts at arresting him failed. Last year, the DEA confirmed to me that they maintained “apprehension authority” for Philippe, but would not confirm if any active efforts were underway to do so. He will now be extradited to the United States to face charges, though no indictment has been unsealed as of Thursday night.

Although Philippe has spent most of the past decade in Haiti’s rural Grand Anse department where he maintains strict control, he became more active in the country’s politics over the past year as he campaigned for senator. President-elect Jovenel Moise, from the PHTK party, openly campaigned with Philippe and his party allied with Philippe’s early in 2016. A PHTK adviser, Renald Luberice, tweeted shortly after the arrest that it was “illegal and arbitrary.” Fires and roadblocks almost immediately went up in Phillipe’s hometown and surrounding areas, according to local news reports.

After last year’s elections were scrapped due to fraud and Michel Martelly left office without an elected successor, Philippe became one of the most outspoken critics of the new interim government that took over. In February 2016, he threatened “civil war” if elections were not held by that April. In May, with elections still yet to occur, Philippe was alleged to be the ringleader of an armed raid on a police station in Les Cayes, in southern Haiti. Elections were eventually held in November 2016 and Philippe won a seat in the Senate, representing the Grand Anse department. Parties allied with PHTK and Philippe will make up the majority of the incoming parliament to be sworn in next week.

Over the summer, a source close to the Haitian government, who requested anonymity, suggested that the US would move against Philippe before he became Senator to “send a message” to the incoming parliament, which includes other figures accused of corruption and drug trafficking. Now that appears to have happened, but not before he helped his allies secure an electoral victory this past November.

Philippe, however, is widely believed to have been involved in murders, atrocities and other human rights abuses over the past 20 years, while serving a political agenda backed by Haiti’s elite and their international allies. He received training by the US military while a cadet in Ecuador in the early 90s before returning to Haiti in 1995. However former president Jean Bertrand Aristide had disbanded the military that same year, due its long history of involvement in atrocities, human rights abuses and coup d’etats. Philippe, who has, in his own words, “always dreamed of becoming a soldier,” instead became police chief in the Delmas neighborhood of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. During his tenure, according to Human Rights Watch, “dozens of suspected gang members were summarily executed, mainly by police under the command of Inspector Berthony Bazile, Philippe’s deputy.”

In 2000, Philippe was accused of orchestrating an attempted coup d’etat against president Rene Preval, but before he could be apprehended he fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic. At first, the Dominican authorities told the Haitian government they would help arrest the fugitive police officer and his allies. According to a former Haitian government official, who requested anonymity, Dominican police apprehended Philippe and were set to hand him over to Haitian authorities, but later reversed themselves. Philippe would remain free until this Thursday.

From his safe-haven in the Dominican Republic, Philippe was accused of leading attacks on Haitian police stations and supporters of president Aristide, who had just been elected for a second time. In an interview with author Peter Hallward, Philippe denied his involvement but added, “don’t worry, when the time is right people will learn what really happened.” At the time, the Aristide administration was under attack both internally and externally. A “civil society” group calling itself the Group of 184, led by Evans Paul, Andy Apaid and Reginald Boulos among others (all now political allies or financiers of PHTK), advocated for Aristide’s ouster. Philippe, when asked about the role of the Group of 184 in the various police station assaults, responded, “I know that certain political leaders and representatives of civil society can help you with this, since they know everything about what happened … Since they’re cowards, however, they’ll just tell you that they know nothing about it.”

Meanwhile, the US and other international lenders froze assistance to the newly elected government, squeezing the Aristide administration and contributing to a rapid decline in living standards. Stanley Lucas, now an advisor to PHTK, but at the time working for the US International Republican Institute, was actively supporting the opposition. According to a 2006 report in the New York Times, Lucas led a training of the opposition in the Dominican Republic in 2003. At the time, Philippe was also at the hotel and met Lucas, though he denies they talked politics. Philippe also said he met with Lucas while in exile in Ecuador in 2000 and 2001 and that they were “good friends.”

In 2004, Philippe had joined with former members of the Haitian military, and led a paramilitary assault on the country with the stated aim of toppling the Aristide administration. Before his forces could reach the capital, Aristide was flown out of the country on a US airplane. It was February 29, 2004, Guy Philippe’s 36th birthday.

Philippe ran for president in 2006, receiving less than 2 percent of the vote. The DEA led a high-profile raid in 2007 seeking to arrest the paramilitary leader, but former Haitian government officials have questioned the US commitment to apprehending Philippe, describing the previous efforts involving helicopters and large shows of force as “theater.”

Philippe’s political ambitions got a shot in the arm with the election of Michel Martelly in 2010. The new president was a natural ally for Philippe, as Martelly made the restoration of the military a key part of the platform of PHTK, his new political party. When elections were held in 2015, the first under Martelly, restrictions on candidates’ ability to register were lifted, and Philippe declared his intention to run for Senator. The Miami Herald dubbed the likely incoming parliament “Legal Bandits,” a riff on a popular Martelly song.

Asked last summer if the US had any reaction to Philippe’s senate candidacy, US Special Coordinator for Haiti Ken Merten responded, “Haiti’s authorities must hold its own citizens accountable for any kind of election-related intimidation, violence, or threat to the stability of the country.” He dismissed questions about Philippe likely taking a seat in the Senate as “hypothetical positing.” However, with Philippe set to be sworn in on Monday — which could put up new obstacles to arrest in the form of immunity  —  the US apparently decided to act.

More than two weeks after Haitians went to the polls to elect a new president, 16 Senators and 25 Deputies, preliminary results from all races have finally been released. Presidential results have already been contested by the second, third and fourth place finishers while many legislative races will likely be contested as well. However, if the preliminary results are upheld, the November 20 elections will have consolidated nearly unprecedented political power in the hands of PHTK, the party of former president Michel Martelly. While PHTK and its allies appear to have scored electoral victories at both the presidential and legislative level, their political success has occurred in a context of extremely low turnout, raising questions about the significance of their mandate to govern moving forward.

Presidential Results

At the presidential level, Jovenel Moïse of PHTK came in first place with 55.67 percent of the vote. If these results hold,  Moïse will secure the presidency without having to compete in a second-round election. In second, third and fourth place were Jude Celestin of LAPEH with 19.52 percent, Jean-Charles Moïse of the Platfom Pitit Dessalines (PPD) with 11.04 percent and Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas (FL) with 8.99 percent.

While the top four vote getters in the 2016 election were exactly the same as in last year’s election, the results of which were thrown out due to widespread irregularities, the composition of the vote changed dramatically. Jovenel Moïse, who was widely believed to have benefitted from fraud in the 2015 elections, was the only one of the four to increase their vote total over last year. This appears to largely stem from the far wider geographical support that Jovenel Moïse received in 2016, coupled with the other top candidates losing substantial ground.

 Haiti vote share department 2016

As can be seen above, Jovenel Moïse received over 50 percent of the vote in each department except for the Artibonite and the Sud Est. Similar to in 2015, the strongest areas of support were in the north of the country, where he runs a banana export business. But perhaps the most surprising result this year was that he also received 50 percent of the vote in the Ouest department, home to some 40 percent of registered voters. In 2015, he received just over 20 percent of the vote in the Ouest. This accounts for nearly the entire increase in the number of total votes received by Jovenel Moïse this year.

Still, even with Jovenel Moïse increasing his votes from 2015, the main reason why he was able to win in the first round was that all three other candidates lost significant numbers of votes. Celestin received 185,000 fewer votes, Jean-Charles 104,000 and Narcisse 14,000. If these candidates had simply received the same number of votes as last year, Jovenel Moïse would not have been able to win in the first round.

The long campaign, and the consolidation of private sector funding behind PHTK certainly helped in this regard. With more resources, PHTK was able to more actively campaign and build support throughout the last year. It takes significant money to have party staff across the entire country, an especially important factor in getting one’s supporters to come out to vote on election day. As a result, PHTK had a wider national presence of political party representatives than other parties, according to local observer organizations.  

Another factor that contributed to the vastly different result was that many more voters were either unable or unwilling to participate in this year’s election. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), announced that participation was just 21 percent, compared to 26.6 percent last year. However the rate announced by the CEP includes many thousands of votes that were not counted due to irregularities. If one looks just at valid votes, the participation in this year’s election drops to 17.3 percent. The 26.6 percent figure from last year was based on valid votes.

Overall, there were nearly 500,000 fewer votes counted this year than last, despite there being 300,000 more registered voters. Even if one assumes that last year’s participation was artificially high due to the number of so-called “zombie votes”, this is still a significant drop. In each of Haiti’s ten departments, fewer votes were counted this year than last.

Haiti  candidate percent registered voters 

As can be seen in the table above, if the preliminary results hold, Jovenel Moïse would become president of Haiti with the support of just 9.6 percent of registered voters, or about 600,000 votes. While this is far more than any of his closest competitors, this raises significant questions about his ability to galvanize the country once in office.  

That someone could be elected president of Haiti with the support of less than 10 percent of registered voters speaks to just how low participation has fallen in recent years. Though the length of the campaign and the impact of Hurricane Matthew has been blamed for the low turnout in this year’s election, by looking at participation from recent presidential elections one can see a clear trend of ever lower participation. The low participation is a far broader issue than anything specific to this year’s election.

Haiti decreasing turnout

As can be seen in the table above, since the 2010 earthquake, participation in presidential elections has plummeted, with this year being the lowest in Haiti’s history. A lack of faith in the electoral system, voter apathy, and barriers to participation appear to all have contributed to this long-term decline. With participation so low, the political stability that elections were expected to bring will be difficult to ensure.

The low turnout number in 2016 is partially because of the high number of “tally sheets” that were quarantined and not counted in the preliminary results due to irregularities. In 2015, just 3.6 percent of these sheets were quarantined and an additional 2.2 percent were never received. This year, 10.5 percent were quarantined and about 1 percent were never received. The higher number of quarantined votes could be the result of greater scrutiny applied after last year’s election. It could also, as some parties have alleged, be a sign that there were more problems than initially expected. Either way, as parties contest the results, a closer look at these excluded tally sheets, should be expected.

Preliminary Legislative Results

In the November 20 election, first round races for ten Senate seats were held. In addition, second round elections were held for six Senate seats and 25 Deputy seats, these being the completion of last year’s aborted election. In the commune of Roseaux, the election for Deputy was unable to be held due to flooding and the inability to properly distribute voting materials.

While results from the presidential election in 2015 were thrown out, in January 2016, 92 Deputies and 14 Senators elected in the same process were sworn in to office. Haiti had been without a functioning parliament since January 2015 after no elections were held during Martelly’s first four years in office.

Over the last year, parliament has largely been split between political factions and unable to pass much in the way of legislation. When interim president Jocelerme Privert’s 120 day mandate expired, parliament was unable to hold a vote on replacing or extending him.

As would be expected given the performance of Jovenel Moïse at the presidential level, PHTK candidates for the Senate and Chamber of Deputies also performed well according to the preliminary results.

In the 24 Deputy races, candidates representing 14 different political parties secured seats, bringing the total number represented in the Chamber of Deputies up to 25. PHTK led all parties by winning 5 seats, however together with close allies KID, AAA, Bouclier and Consortium, the bloc picked up 9 seats. Together, these parties now have at least 53 of the 116 members in the Chamber of Deputies. Though not an outright majority, with the rest of the political sphere split, it gives PHTK and its allies by far the largest voting bloc.

haiti deputies by party 2016

Sixteen Senate seats were also up for grabs on November 20. In those races, six of which were second round elections, PHTK secured an additional four seats, while allies Bouclier and Consortium each picked up one. In the eight departments where second round Senate elections will be held in January 2017, PHTK has five candidates while Bouclier, AAA, Consortium and Kid combine for an additional five.

Haiti senate elected 2016

Perhaps most notable among the list above is the presence of Guy Philippe, elected to the Senate from the Grand Anse department. Philippe was a paramilitary leader that helped oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in a 2004 coup, has been accused of extrajudicial killings while a police commander in the 90s by Human Rights Watch, and more recently was allegedly involved in the armed raid of a police station in the southern city of Les Cayes. He is also a DEA most-wanted fugitive for his role in drug trafficking and money laundering. Philippe campaigned with Jovenel Moïse over the last year. 

Also of note is former Senator Joseph Lambert, who ran and lost under the PHTK banner in last year’s election. He is now set to return to the Senate under the KONA party.

With the election of six Senators, PHTK and its allies look poised to secure an absolute majority in the Senate. The bloc is guaranteed to pick up at least two additional seats in the second round senate election in January, as candidates from allied parties compete against each other in the Centre and Artibonite departments. Overall, in the eight departments that will have second round elections, PHTK or parties allied with it came in first in seven.

haiti senate by party 2016 2 

Participation of Women in Parliament

The November 20 election did see the first woman elected to parliament. Of the 106 Deputies and Senators that were sworn in last year none are women, despite women making up more than 50 percent of the population. Based on preliminary results however, four women have been elected to parliament, one in the Senate and three as Deputies.

The electoral law mandated that at least 30 percent of candidates for office be women, however the actual number who registered and campaigned was far lower. There have also been many efforts to increase the participation of women in elections. Among the data published by the CEP in the preliminary results is a tally of the number of women who voted at each voting booth, which would allow for further analysis and improvement going forward.

More than two weeks after Haitians went to the polls to elect a new president, 16 Senators and 25 Deputies, preliminary results from all races have finally been released. Presidential results have already been contested by the second, third and fourth place finishers while many legislative races will likely be contested as well. However, if the preliminary results are upheld, the November 20 elections will have consolidated nearly unprecedented political power in the hands of PHTK, the party of former president Michel Martelly. While PHTK and its allies appear to have scored electoral victories at both the presidential and legislative level, their political success has occurred in a context of extremely low turnout, raising questions about the significance of their mandate to govern moving forward.

Presidential Results

At the presidential level, Jovenel Moïse of PHTK came in first place with 55.67 percent of the vote. If these results hold,  Moïse will secure the presidency without having to compete in a second-round election. In second, third and fourth place were Jude Celestin of LAPEH with 19.52 percent, Jean-Charles Moïse of the Platfom Pitit Dessalines (PPD) with 11.04 percent and Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas (FL) with 8.99 percent.

While the top four vote getters in the 2016 election were exactly the same as in last year’s election, the results of which were thrown out due to widespread irregularities, the composition of the vote changed dramatically. Jovenel Moïse, who was widely believed to have benefitted from fraud in the 2015 elections, was the only one of the four to increase their vote total over last year. This appears to largely stem from the far wider geographical support that Jovenel Moïse received in 2016, coupled with the other top candidates losing substantial ground.

 Haiti vote share department 2016

As can be seen above, Jovenel Moïse received over 50 percent of the vote in each department except for the Artibonite and the Sud Est. Similar to in 2015, the strongest areas of support were in the north of the country, where he runs a banana export business. But perhaps the most surprising result this year was that he also received 50 percent of the vote in the Ouest department, home to some 40 percent of registered voters. In 2015, he received just over 20 percent of the vote in the Ouest. This accounts for nearly the entire increase in the number of total votes received by Jovenel Moïse this year.

Still, even with Jovenel Moïse increasing his votes from 2015, the main reason why he was able to win in the first round was that all three other candidates lost significant numbers of votes. Celestin received 185,000 fewer votes, Jean-Charles 104,000 and Narcisse 14,000. If these candidates had simply received the same number of votes as last year, Jovenel Moïse would not have been able to win in the first round.

The long campaign, and the consolidation of private sector funding behind PHTK certainly helped in this regard. With more resources, PHTK was able to more actively campaign and build support throughout the last year. It takes significant money to have party staff across the entire country, an especially important factor in getting one’s supporters to come out to vote on election day. As a result, PHTK had a wider national presence of political party representatives than other parties, according to local observer organizations.  

Another factor that contributed to the vastly different result was that many more voters were either unable or unwilling to participate in this year’s election. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), announced that participation was just 21 percent, compared to 26.6 percent last year. However the rate announced by the CEP includes many thousands of votes that were not counted due to irregularities. If one looks just at valid votes, the participation in this year’s election drops to 17.3 percent. The 26.6 percent figure from last year was based on valid votes.

Overall, there were nearly 500,000 fewer votes counted this year than last, despite there being 300,000 more registered voters. Even if one assumes that last year’s participation was artificially high due to the number of so-called “zombie votes”, this is still a significant drop. In each of Haiti’s ten departments, fewer votes were counted this year than last.

Haiti  candidate percent registered voters 

As can be seen in the table above, if the preliminary results hold, Jovenel Moïse would become president of Haiti with the support of just 9.6 percent of registered voters, or about 600,000 votes. While this is far more than any of his closest competitors, this raises significant questions about his ability to galvanize the country once in office.  

That someone could be elected president of Haiti with the support of less than 10 percent of registered voters speaks to just how low participation has fallen in recent years. Though the length of the campaign and the impact of Hurricane Matthew has been blamed for the low turnout in this year’s election, by looking at participation from recent presidential elections one can see a clear trend of ever lower participation. The low participation is a far broader issue than anything specific to this year’s election.

Haiti decreasing turnout

As can be seen in the table above, since the 2010 earthquake, participation in presidential elections has plummeted, with this year being the lowest in Haiti’s history. A lack of faith in the electoral system, voter apathy, and barriers to participation appear to all have contributed to this long-term decline. With participation so low, the political stability that elections were expected to bring will be difficult to ensure.

The low turnout number in 2016 is partially because of the high number of “tally sheets” that were quarantined and not counted in the preliminary results due to irregularities. In 2015, just 3.6 percent of these sheets were quarantined and an additional 2.2 percent were never received. This year, 10.5 percent were quarantined and about 1 percent were never received. The higher number of quarantined votes could be the result of greater scrutiny applied after last year’s election. It could also, as some parties have alleged, be a sign that there were more problems than initially expected. Either way, as parties contest the results, a closer look at these excluded tally sheets, should be expected.

Preliminary Legislative Results

In the November 20 election, first round races for ten Senate seats were held. In addition, second round elections were held for six Senate seats and 25 Deputy seats, these being the completion of last year’s aborted election. In the commune of Roseaux, the election for Deputy was unable to be held due to flooding and the inability to properly distribute voting materials.

While results from the presidential election in 2015 were thrown out, in January 2016, 92 Deputies and 14 Senators elected in the same process were sworn in to office. Haiti had been without a functioning parliament since January 2015 after no elections were held during Martelly’s first four years in office.

Over the last year, parliament has largely been split between political factions and unable to pass much in the way of legislation. When interim president Jocelerme Privert’s 120 day mandate expired, parliament was unable to hold a vote on replacing or extending him.

As would be expected given the performance of Jovenel Moïse at the presidential level, PHTK candidates for the Senate and Chamber of Deputies also performed well according to the preliminary results.

In the 24 Deputy races, candidates representing 14 different political parties secured seats, bringing the total number represented in the Chamber of Deputies up to 25. PHTK led all parties by winning 5 seats, however together with close allies KID, AAA, Bouclier and Consortium, the bloc picked up 9 seats. Together, these parties now have at least 53 of the 116 members in the Chamber of Deputies. Though not an outright majority, with the rest of the political sphere split, it gives PHTK and its allies by far the largest voting bloc.

haiti deputies by party 2016

Sixteen Senate seats were also up for grabs on November 20. In those races, six of which were second round elections, PHTK secured an additional four seats, while allies Bouclier and Consortium each picked up one. In the eight departments where second round Senate elections will be held in January 2017, PHTK has five candidates while Bouclier, AAA, Consortium and Kid combine for an additional five.

Haiti senate elected 2016

Perhaps most notable among the list above is the presence of Guy Philippe, elected to the Senate from the Grand Anse department. Philippe was a paramilitary leader that helped oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in a 2004 coup, has been accused of extrajudicial killings while a police commander in the 90s by Human Rights Watch, and more recently was allegedly involved in the armed raid of a police station in the southern city of Les Cayes. He is also a DEA most-wanted fugitive for his role in drug trafficking and money laundering. Philippe campaigned with Jovenel Moïse over the last year. 

Also of note is former Senator Joseph Lambert, who ran and lost under the PHTK banner in last year’s election. He is now set to return to the Senate under the KONA party.

With the election of six Senators, PHTK and its allies look poised to secure an absolute majority in the Senate. The bloc is guaranteed to pick up at least two additional seats in the second round senate election in January, as candidates from allied parties compete against each other in the Centre and Artibonite departments. Overall, in the eight departments that will have second round elections, PHTK or parties allied with it came in first in seven.

haiti senate by party 2016 2 

Participation of Women in Parliament

The November 20 election did see the first woman elected to parliament. Of the 106 Deputies and Senators that were sworn in last year none are women, despite women making up more than 50 percent of the population. Based on preliminary results however, four women have been elected to parliament, one in the Senate and three as Deputies.

The electoral law mandated that at least 30 percent of candidates for office be women, however the actual number who registered and campaigned was far lower. There have also been many efforts to increase the participation of women in elections. Among the data published by the CEP in the preliminary results is a tally of the number of women who voted at each voting booth, which would allow for further analysis and improvement going forward.

Ever since the first democratic elections in 1990, the influence of foreign actors over Haiti’s political process has only increased. Foreign donors have financed Haitian elections, UN troops have transported ballots and guarded polling stations, international observers have granted (or withheld) legitimacy to electoral outcomes, and foreign embassies have intervened when postelectoral crises erupt. Due to this preponderant role played in elections, the so-called international community ? the polite term for the dominant powers, organized now as the Core Group ? has often had the last word in Haitian politics.

This state of affairs has engendered even greater distrust in the political process. Sensing that it was not voters but foreign diplomats who decided who could be president, Haitians’ participation in elections has plummeted, from greater than 50 percent participation a decade ago to only about 25 percent last year. But with the developments over the past year and a half, that cycle looked to be breaking down.

The decision of the Haitian authorities, with the support of civil society, to rerun the election was a huge blow to the US and its allies in the international community. The Core Group (which brings together the ambassadors of the US, Canada, France, Brazil, Spain, the European Union, and the special representatives of the Organization of American States and the secretary general of the United Nations) had vigorously opposed calls for a verification commission and the formation of a transitional government after the October 25, 2015 elections. Many advocated for a continuation of last year’s vote, despite the protests of political actors and civil society, and the boycott of second-place finisher Jude Celestin. As Haiti expert Robert Maguire noted at the time, “the objective seems simply to be able to check an ‘elections done’ box.”

The US and the Core Group was also worried that new elections might give the Lavalas-aligned candidates (Maryse Narcisse and Moïse Jean-Charles) a better chance at the presidency. “They’re not thrilled with Aristide’s forces coming back,” a US congressional source told Reuters regarding the Obama administration’s reaction to the antifraud protests. Another concern for the Obama administration was keeping Haiti ? where Hillary Clinton had developed a negative reputation ? out of the headlines during the US presidential campaign.

An organized and mobilized civil society rejected the dictates of the foreign actors and the interim government that took over when former president Martelly’s term expired responded to these demands. Confronted by this stunning development, European Union observers pulled out of the country after the decision to rerun the presidential election. The US withdrew $2 million in funding that remained in a UN-managed election basket fund and, with Canada, pledged not to provide additional money for this year’s election. Foreign aid was reduced over the last year, with many embassies refusing to attend meetings with the provisional president, or even go to the National Palace over the last nine months.

A notable exception was the OAS.  While echoing some of the EU’s criticisms, the OAS observers did not actively oppose the decision to rerun the election and pledged to continue accompanying the process. Still, after the OAS’ widely criticized intervention in the 2010 election and their early and steadfast support for last year’s results, the OAS has been discredited in many Haitians’ eyes.

The Haitian government’s pledge to fund the elections itself was another significant step toward greater sovereignty and independence. While previously legitimacy was bestowed from abroad, now it is clear that it must be Haitians that provide the ultimate barometer of the election’s success.

But some of these advances have been slowed or thwarted by the passing of Hurricane Matthew. With a dire humanitarian situation, it was necessary for the provisional government to obtain funds and support from international actors. With the damage to electoral infrastructure and the newly created logistics problems, further support for the electoral process was also necessary.

This is has put the international community in a better position to influence and wield power over the Haitian government and the electoral process. Interestingly, after criticizing the postponements and investigations over the last year, it was international actors that pressured for a longer delay after the early-October hurricane, though there was an insistence on moving forward with elections no later than November.

Since the hurricane, the US has announced they will in fact provide funding for UNOPS to handle electoral logistics and statements from the UN and others have been largely supportive of the interim government’s efforts to hold the elections, even praising improvements in the electoral process.

In addition to regaining their diminished influence, foreign donors have other interests ahead of Sunday’s vote. With relief efforts following Hurricane Matthew ? and millions of dollars ? on the line, there is a lot more at stake in these upcoming elections, for all interested parties.

Ever since the first democratic elections in 1990, the influence of foreign actors over Haiti’s political process has only increased. Foreign donors have financed Haitian elections, UN troops have transported ballots and guarded polling stations, international observers have granted (or withheld) legitimacy to electoral outcomes, and foreign embassies have intervened when postelectoral crises erupt. Due to this preponderant role played in elections, the so-called international community ? the polite term for the dominant powers, organized now as the Core Group ? has often had the last word in Haitian politics.

This state of affairs has engendered even greater distrust in the political process. Sensing that it was not voters but foreign diplomats who decided who could be president, Haitians’ participation in elections has plummeted, from greater than 50 percent participation a decade ago to only about 25 percent last year. But with the developments over the past year and a half, that cycle looked to be breaking down.

The decision of the Haitian authorities, with the support of civil society, to rerun the election was a huge blow to the US and its allies in the international community. The Core Group (which brings together the ambassadors of the US, Canada, France, Brazil, Spain, the European Union, and the special representatives of the Organization of American States and the secretary general of the United Nations) had vigorously opposed calls for a verification commission and the formation of a transitional government after the October 25, 2015 elections. Many advocated for a continuation of last year’s vote, despite the protests of political actors and civil society, and the boycott of second-place finisher Jude Celestin. As Haiti expert Robert Maguire noted at the time, “the objective seems simply to be able to check an ‘elections done’ box.”

The US and the Core Group was also worried that new elections might give the Lavalas-aligned candidates (Maryse Narcisse and Moïse Jean-Charles) a better chance at the presidency. “They’re not thrilled with Aristide’s forces coming back,” a US congressional source told Reuters regarding the Obama administration’s reaction to the antifraud protests. Another concern for the Obama administration was keeping Haiti ? where Hillary Clinton had developed a negative reputation ? out of the headlines during the US presidential campaign.

An organized and mobilized civil society rejected the dictates of the foreign actors and the interim government that took over when former president Martelly’s term expired responded to these demands. Confronted by this stunning development, European Union observers pulled out of the country after the decision to rerun the presidential election. The US withdrew $2 million in funding that remained in a UN-managed election basket fund and, with Canada, pledged not to provide additional money for this year’s election. Foreign aid was reduced over the last year, with many embassies refusing to attend meetings with the provisional president, or even go to the National Palace over the last nine months.

A notable exception was the OAS.  While echoing some of the EU’s criticisms, the OAS observers did not actively oppose the decision to rerun the election and pledged to continue accompanying the process. Still, after the OAS’ widely criticized intervention in the 2010 election and their early and steadfast support for last year’s results, the OAS has been discredited in many Haitians’ eyes.

The Haitian government’s pledge to fund the elections itself was another significant step toward greater sovereignty and independence. While previously legitimacy was bestowed from abroad, now it is clear that it must be Haitians that provide the ultimate barometer of the election’s success.

But some of these advances have been slowed or thwarted by the passing of Hurricane Matthew. With a dire humanitarian situation, it was necessary for the provisional government to obtain funds and support from international actors. With the damage to electoral infrastructure and the newly created logistics problems, further support for the electoral process was also necessary.

This is has put the international community in a better position to influence and wield power over the Haitian government and the electoral process. Interestingly, after criticizing the postponements and investigations over the last year, it was international actors that pressured for a longer delay after the early-October hurricane, though there was an insistence on moving forward with elections no later than November.

Since the hurricane, the US has announced they will in fact provide funding for UNOPS to handle electoral logistics and statements from the UN and others have been largely supportive of the interim government’s efforts to hold the elections, even praising improvements in the electoral process.

In addition to regaining their diminished influence, foreign donors have other interests ahead of Sunday’s vote. With relief efforts following Hurricane Matthew ? and millions of dollars ? on the line, there is a lot more at stake in these upcoming elections, for all interested parties.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here.
Read Part 2: Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, here.
Read Part 3: The Parliament, here

The devastating passage of hurricane Matthew has changed the dynamics of the upcoming election in Haiti. Following last year’s fraudulent elections, the new electoral council has been making changes in order to produce a more legitimate outcome this year, but the hurricane has raised new concerns.

A significant number of voting centers in the affected area have been destroyed or damaged. Many are also being used as temporary shelters. Efforts have been ongoing to repair or set up tents to replace voting centers, and the electoral council has stated that 80 percent of damaged voting centers have been repaired, and that all are able to be reached. However, the true test will come Sunday.

Additionally, many communities remain almost completely out of contact and unable to be reached. Electoral materials have been distributed throughout the country, but there is a high probability of delays on Sunday morning in some hard-to-reach areas. Damage to infrastructure, and ongoing flooding in parts of the country could also dissuade voters from going to the polls. Turnout ? which has already reached abysmal levels in recent elections ? will be a key indicator.

Many voters also lost their identity cards in the storm. Though it is unclear how many Haitians were impacted, and the government has pledged to provide new cards to those in need, the full scale of the problem is still unknown. The government agency responsible for providing the ID cards said last week that only 2,000 new cards have been requested, indicating that many may simply be dealing with basic necessities like having a roof over one’s head or securing food, rather than voting. This has created uncertainty around the ability of Haitians in the southern peninsula to exercise their democratic rights. 

Beyond the technical problems that have been created by the hurricane, there are severe humanitarian issues. Hundreds of thousands across the southern peninsula have been left with no homes, no crops and no safe water. Relief efforts are ongoing, but have been inadequate to address the many needs. Is it simply too soon to ask the Haitian people most impacted by this storm to think about an election?

Between 10 and 15 percent of registered voters reside in the storm-ravaged southern peninsula, and many more in the northern departments that have more recently been affected by heavy rains and flooding. It is clear the election in these areas will be significantly impacted, and many will be disenfranchised. It’s also possible that with lower turnout in more rural provinces, it will be, more than ever, Port-au-Prince determining who the next president will be.

This is likely to reinforce centralization in the “republic of Port-au-Prince”, further isolating rural provinces and towns that have long felt disconnected from the political and economic elite in the country’s capital.

Though the results of last year’s election were tainted by widespread irregularities, they do provide some indication of where candidates had the strongest support. The PHTK’s Jovenel Moise was weakest in the West and South-East departments and strongest in the northern departments as well as the Grand Anse and South. Those are the areas that have been the most impacted by the hurricane and subsequent flooding, potentially decreasing the PHTK’s vote share. On the flip side, both Pitit Dessalines and Fanmi Lavalas did comparatively well in the West department, especially in Port-au-Prince.

With the elections taking place during a time of scarcity and great need, there is also the potential for vote buying and voter coercion to take on an even larger role. In some areas, local politicians running for office may actually be in control of much needed relief supplies, making the population believe that voting for them is the best way to ensure access to goods. It has also created a larger market for more direct forms of vote buying.

The ability of the police to ensure a calm and safe voting environment, in the context of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, is also a big question heading into this weekend. Earlier this week, the United Nations signed a security plan with the Haitian National Police. There will be around 13,000 security personnel from both institutions deployed across the country.

There is, of course, a tremendous need to hold an election and move again toward an elected government, however there are also serious risks with moving ahead when the country is not prepared for an election. The 2010 election, which took place in in the midst of the aftermath of the earthquake and the cholera epidemic, provides a warning. That election was so flawed that it failed to produce a legitimate president, leading to five years of political instability and the current electoral impasse Haiti finds itself in. Elections are not a panacea, and poorly run elections can do lasting damage to a democracy.

Though all parties appear to be supporting the current process, one concern is that the issues likely to arise due to storm damage will give political actors a pretext to contest the results, regardless of how voting goes on Sunday. As reports are gathered from across the country, the risk of violence and other voting disruptions is likely to grow throughout the day.

Finally, though improvements have been made in terms of rural access and infrastructure since the passage of Hurricane Matthew, rains continue to fall across the country, causing new flooding and likely new problems ahead of the election. The forecast for this weekend: more rain.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here.
Read Part 2: Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, here.
Read Part 3: The Parliament, here

The devastating passage of hurricane Matthew has changed the dynamics of the upcoming election in Haiti. Following last year’s fraudulent elections, the new electoral council has been making changes in order to produce a more legitimate outcome this year, but the hurricane has raised new concerns.

A significant number of voting centers in the affected area have been destroyed or damaged. Many are also being used as temporary shelters. Efforts have been ongoing to repair or set up tents to replace voting centers, and the electoral council has stated that 80 percent of damaged voting centers have been repaired, and that all are able to be reached. However, the true test will come Sunday.

Additionally, many communities remain almost completely out of contact and unable to be reached. Electoral materials have been distributed throughout the country, but there is a high probability of delays on Sunday morning in some hard-to-reach areas. Damage to infrastructure, and ongoing flooding in parts of the country could also dissuade voters from going to the polls. Turnout ? which has already reached abysmal levels in recent elections ? will be a key indicator.

Many voters also lost their identity cards in the storm. Though it is unclear how many Haitians were impacted, and the government has pledged to provide new cards to those in need, the full scale of the problem is still unknown. The government agency responsible for providing the ID cards said last week that only 2,000 new cards have been requested, indicating that many may simply be dealing with basic necessities like having a roof over one’s head or securing food, rather than voting. This has created uncertainty around the ability of Haitians in the southern peninsula to exercise their democratic rights. 

Beyond the technical problems that have been created by the hurricane, there are severe humanitarian issues. Hundreds of thousands across the southern peninsula have been left with no homes, no crops and no safe water. Relief efforts are ongoing, but have been inadequate to address the many needs. Is it simply too soon to ask the Haitian people most impacted by this storm to think about an election?

Between 10 and 15 percent of registered voters reside in the storm-ravaged southern peninsula, and many more in the northern departments that have more recently been affected by heavy rains and flooding. It is clear the election in these areas will be significantly impacted, and many will be disenfranchised. It’s also possible that with lower turnout in more rural provinces, it will be, more than ever, Port-au-Prince determining who the next president will be.

This is likely to reinforce centralization in the “republic of Port-au-Prince”, further isolating rural provinces and towns that have long felt disconnected from the political and economic elite in the country’s capital.

Though the results of last year’s election were tainted by widespread irregularities, they do provide some indication of where candidates had the strongest support. The PHTK’s Jovenel Moise was weakest in the West and South-East departments and strongest in the northern departments as well as the Grand Anse and South. Those are the areas that have been the most impacted by the hurricane and subsequent flooding, potentially decreasing the PHTK’s vote share. On the flip side, both Pitit Dessalines and Fanmi Lavalas did comparatively well in the West department, especially in Port-au-Prince.

With the elections taking place during a time of scarcity and great need, there is also the potential for vote buying and voter coercion to take on an even larger role. In some areas, local politicians running for office may actually be in control of much needed relief supplies, making the population believe that voting for them is the best way to ensure access to goods. It has also created a larger market for more direct forms of vote buying.

The ability of the police to ensure a calm and safe voting environment, in the context of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, is also a big question heading into this weekend. Earlier this week, the United Nations signed a security plan with the Haitian National Police. There will be around 13,000 security personnel from both institutions deployed across the country.

There is, of course, a tremendous need to hold an election and move again toward an elected government, however there are also serious risks with moving ahead when the country is not prepared for an election. The 2010 election, which took place in in the midst of the aftermath of the earthquake and the cholera epidemic, provides a warning. That election was so flawed that it failed to produce a legitimate president, leading to five years of political instability and the current electoral impasse Haiti finds itself in. Elections are not a panacea, and poorly run elections can do lasting damage to a democracy.

Though all parties appear to be supporting the current process, one concern is that the issues likely to arise due to storm damage will give political actors a pretext to contest the results, regardless of how voting goes on Sunday. As reports are gathered from across the country, the risk of violence and other voting disruptions is likely to grow throughout the day.

Finally, though improvements have been made in terms of rural access and infrastructure since the passage of Hurricane Matthew, rains continue to fall across the country, causing new flooding and likely new problems ahead of the election. The forecast for this weekend: more rain.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here

Read Part 2: Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, here

Often lost in the discussion of Haiti’s presidential race is the fact that many legislative seats are up for grabs as well, including more than half of the Senate. Currently, the parliament is pretty evenly split between political factions but with such a high number of seats left to be decided the balance of power could shift dramatically this weekend. Control of the legislative body is especially important in Haiti’s political system, where it is parliament that approves the new prime minister and government program.

The presidential election was scheduled to coincide with the expiration of one-third of the Senate. Ten Senators had been elected to six-year terms in 2010, so ten first-round races for senate seats will be conducted on November 20. Six second-round Senate races and two dozen second-round races for Deputy will be held as well. The second-round races are the continuation of last year’s fraud- and violence-plagued elections.

For the ten first-round senate elections (one in each department), 149 candidates have registered, coming from 43 different political parties. Interestingly, it is Fanmi Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines who have registered the most candidates of the four major presidential parties with 10 and 9 respectively. With candidates competing in all ten departments, it could bolster rural votes at the presidential level. PHTK and LAPEH, on the other hand, have registered 7 and 6 candidates respectively.

For the second-round senate races still to be competed, parties allied with PHTK make up the majority of candidates. Due to high levels of fraud and violence in the August 9, 2015 legislative election, first-round reruns were conducted for these races in 3 departments (Center, Grand Anse and Nord) last October. Nine of the 12 Senatorial candidates participating in this Sunday’s second round are from PHTK, Bouclier and Consortium (all allies) while no other party has more than one candidate. With two senators being elected from each of these races, PHTK and its allies are guaranteed at least one additional seat in each department.

At the deputy level, there are 25 second-round races that will be completed on Sunday. Again, it is PHTK and allied parties that make up the largest number of candidates, accounting for 40 percent overall, putting them in a good position to pick up seats in the lower chamber. The number of races, broken down by department is as follows: West (6), North (6), Artibonite (4), Center (2), Grand’Anse (2), South-East (2), South (2) and North-West (1).

A positive showing for PHTK and its associates could cement their control of parliament. The leadership of the Chamber of Deputies is already allied with PHTK, as is a substantial minority bloc in the Senate. In September, 48 of the 93 deputies signed a letter endorsing PHTK’s Jovenel Moise for president and offered about $30,000 in campaign funding. Senator Youri Latortue (who a former US ambassador described as the “poster boy” for corruption in Haiti) has been campaigning in the Artibonite with Moise.

In the event of a Jovenel Moïse victory, the incoming president would enjoy a blank check from a PHTK-dominated parliament; otherwise, PHTK’s strong position could be a source of gridlock between the parliamentary and the executive branches of government. One caveat is that political allegiances in Haiti are notoriously fickle. While candidates may run under one political banner, once elected, it is entirely possible for them to stake out a very different position. Already in the campaign, parliamentary candidates have endorsed presidential candidates from outside their own party. A new law on the formation of political parties, passed during the Martelly administration, allowed new parties to form with as few as 20 signatures, leading to many new, small parties registering.

No matter the outcome of November 20, the legacy of last year’s elections will be cemented with the new parliament. Serious questions have been raised about the legitimacy of current members of parliament, some of whom were elected only through controversial electoral court decisions or in the fraud and violence-plagued 2015 votes. The commission investigating electoral fraud recommended reviewing many of these decisions, but the CEP has made little headway since then. The commission allowed the parliamentary results of the October 25, 2015 vote to stand, even though it called for the presidential results to be discarded due to the level of fraud and irregularities. Parliament has been barely functional since new members took their seats last January.

The parliamentary elections could also lead to the swearing in of numerous candidates that have been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Before last year’s legislative race, rules were relaxed that allowed candidates to register without proving a clean criminal record. The most notable registrant was Guy Philippe, a former police and paramilitary commander who has been accused of gross human rights violations and who is a DEA most-wanted fugitive. He was an active participant in the 2004 coup against Aristide. Philippe is running for a senate seat in the Grand‘Anse department, where hurricane Matthew’s impact was greatest. Philippe has appeared on the campaign trail with PHTK’s Jovenel Moise and his political movement Consortium entered into a formal alliance with PHTK earlier this year.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here

Read Part 2: Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, here

Often lost in the discussion of Haiti’s presidential race is the fact that many legislative seats are up for grabs as well, including more than half of the Senate. Currently, the parliament is pretty evenly split between political factions but with such a high number of seats left to be decided the balance of power could shift dramatically this weekend. Control of the legislative body is especially important in Haiti’s political system, where it is parliament that approves the new prime minister and government program.

The presidential election was scheduled to coincide with the expiration of one-third of the Senate. Ten Senators had been elected to six-year terms in 2010, so ten first-round races for senate seats will be conducted on November 20. Six second-round Senate races and two dozen second-round races for Deputy will be held as well. The second-round races are the continuation of last year’s fraud- and violence-plagued elections.

For the ten first-round senate elections (one in each department), 149 candidates have registered, coming from 43 different political parties. Interestingly, it is Fanmi Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines who have registered the most candidates of the four major presidential parties with 10 and 9 respectively. With candidates competing in all ten departments, it could bolster rural votes at the presidential level. PHTK and LAPEH, on the other hand, have registered 7 and 6 candidates respectively.

For the second-round senate races still to be competed, parties allied with PHTK make up the majority of candidates. Due to high levels of fraud and violence in the August 9, 2015 legislative election, first-round reruns were conducted for these races in 3 departments (Center, Grand Anse and Nord) last October. Nine of the 12 Senatorial candidates participating in this Sunday’s second round are from PHTK, Bouclier and Consortium (all allies) while no other party has more than one candidate. With two senators being elected from each of these races, PHTK and its allies are guaranteed at least one additional seat in each department.

At the deputy level, there are 25 second-round races that will be completed on Sunday. Again, it is PHTK and allied parties that make up the largest number of candidates, accounting for 40 percent overall, putting them in a good position to pick up seats in the lower chamber. The number of races, broken down by department is as follows: West (6), North (6), Artibonite (4), Center (2), Grand’Anse (2), South-East (2), South (2) and North-West (1).

A positive showing for PHTK and its associates could cement their control of parliament. The leadership of the Chamber of Deputies is already allied with PHTK, as is a substantial minority bloc in the Senate. In September, 48 of the 93 deputies signed a letter endorsing PHTK’s Jovenel Moise for president and offered about $30,000 in campaign funding. Senator Youri Latortue (who a former US ambassador described as the “poster boy” for corruption in Haiti) has been campaigning in the Artibonite with Moise.

In the event of a Jovenel Moïse victory, the incoming president would enjoy a blank check from a PHTK-dominated parliament; otherwise, PHTK’s strong position could be a source of gridlock between the parliamentary and the executive branches of government. One caveat is that political allegiances in Haiti are notoriously fickle. While candidates may run under one political banner, once elected, it is entirely possible for them to stake out a very different position. Already in the campaign, parliamentary candidates have endorsed presidential candidates from outside their own party. A new law on the formation of political parties, passed during the Martelly administration, allowed new parties to form with as few as 20 signatures, leading to many new, small parties registering.

No matter the outcome of November 20, the legacy of last year’s elections will be cemented with the new parliament. Serious questions have been raised about the legitimacy of current members of parliament, some of whom were elected only through controversial electoral court decisions or in the fraud and violence-plagued 2015 votes. The commission investigating electoral fraud recommended reviewing many of these decisions, but the CEP has made little headway since then. The commission allowed the parliamentary results of the October 25, 2015 vote to stand, even though it called for the presidential results to be discarded due to the level of fraud and irregularities. Parliament has been barely functional since new members took their seats last January.

The parliamentary elections could also lead to the swearing in of numerous candidates that have been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Before last year’s legislative race, rules were relaxed that allowed candidates to register without proving a clean criminal record. The most notable registrant was Guy Philippe, a former police and paramilitary commander who has been accused of gross human rights violations and who is a DEA most-wanted fugitive. He was an active participant in the 2004 coup against Aristide. Philippe is running for a senate seat in the Grand‘Anse department, where hurricane Matthew’s impact was greatest. Philippe has appeared on the campaign trail with PHTK’s Jovenel Moise and his political movement Consortium entered into a formal alliance with PHTK earlier this year.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here.

In a crowded field of 54 presidential candidates, the top two finishers in last year’s elections were Jovenel Moïse (PHTK) and Jude Celestin (LAPEH). Third and fourth were Moïse Jean-Charles (Platfom Pitit Dessalines) and Maryse Narcisse (Fanmi Lavalas). Although the earlier vote was plagued by fraud and irregularities and the results were eventually discarded, the top four finishers on October 25, 2015 are expected to lead the pack of 27 candidates participating on Sunday, November 20. Here is a closer look at the principal candidates heading into this weekend’s election:

Jovenel Moïse is PHTK’s candidate. Prior to the 2015 elections when former President Martelly selected Moïse as his successor, the lanky agricultural businessman from the North was a political unknown. Moïse’s company Agritrans runs a banana plantation primarily for export in Trou-du-Nord and was set up with government financing under Martelly’s administration. During the campaign, Moïse has branded himself as “The Banana Man” (Nèg Bannann Nan). He promises to revitalize Haiti’s neglected agriculture and to remobilize Haiti’s military, which was disbanded in 1995.

While in office, Martelly campaigned aggressively for Moïse and was accused of using state resources to promote his party’s candidate. For this reason, Moïse was perceived by many as a weak Martelly surrogate. One irony of the long delay since last year’s vote is that PHTK’s Moïse may actually be in a better position now. Time has allowed him to step out from under Martelly’s shadow, posing as an opponent to the provisional government rather than the ruling party’s candidate. PHTK and its political allies in the parliament have accused the interim government and the CEP of being biased in favor of “Lavalas” and claimed that the elections may be rigged against them. They have also consistently questioned the legitimacy of the provisional president, even at one point calling on police officers to disobey orders.

After the Hurricane, PHTK leaders threatened the provisional government with street protests and legislative action if elections were not held within weeks of the storm and have been publicizing polling (notoriously suspect in Haiti) that shows Jovenel Moïse with the highest level of support among presidential candidates.

Haiti’s interminable election cycle has depleted the finances of many parties, but although PHTK is facing similar problems, they are likely the party with the deepest pockets. With greater access to resources, the party was able to continue to campaign – including in the hurricane-hit south where Moïse distributed aid to victims. Well-financed and with a cadre of international election advisors, PHTK has many factors working in their favor.

In their quest for the presidency, PHTK has allied with local politicians that, in some cases, have been tied to corruption, drug trafficking and other wrongdoing. Though the campaign has distanced itself from Martelly, there is lingering dissatisfaction with the previous government, bolstered by recent allegations of corruption, which could weigh on voter’s minds Sunday.

Jude Celestin, the second-place finisher in last year’s election and the leading figure in the boycott movement, is the candidate of Ligue alternative pour le progrès et l’émancipation haïtienne (LAPEH). In the 2010 election, Celestin competed under the banner of INITE, the party of then-president René Préval. Those elections were also plagued by widespread fraud, violence and irregularities, many stemming from the fact that elections were held in the same year as the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left more than a million displaced. An Organization of American States (OAS) commission recommended changing the results, removing Celestin from the race and replacing him with Michel Martelly, without providing evidence that Martelly had actually received more votes than Celestin. The US then issued diplomatic threats, including a possible cut off of desperately needed post-earthquake aid, in order force the Haitian government to accept the changes.

Many expected Celestin to eventually call off the boycott and participate in last year’s second-round election, but his position was unwavering and led to the cancellation of the election. His supporters consider him a savior for preventing the fraudulent elections from standing; adversaries see him as the primary cause of the political instability of the last year. After 2010 and his role in cancelling last year’s election, Celestin hasn’t made many friends in the international community, though many close to him have worked over the last year to reestablish a relationship.

Celestin has championed his boycott’s role in getting the rerun, and has pointed to his experience at CNE, the national construction company, to present himself as a builder who knows how to get things done. After the Hurricane, Celestin offered to rebuild a key bridge and construction equipment was seen plastered with his campaign image.

With the provisional president Privert coming from an allied political party, Celestin is perceived to have benefitted from the change in leadership. But it is important to note that the interim government consists of politicians from many different movements and it would be a mistake to think all, or even most, are willing or able to help his campaign.

Still Celestin, similar to PHTK, has received significant private sector backing and can likely count on support from those sectors that have historically been allied with President Préval, giving him a political machine that should be able to generate votes on election day. Still, it is interesting to note that of the three former presidents currently active in politics, Préval is the only one to not openly endorse a candidate. University professor Jacky Lumarque was Préval’s chosen candidate, but was excluded from participating by the previous electoral council under Martelly.

Moïse Jean-Charles, a former Senator from the North department, finished third in last year’s election and is once again expected to be a top vote getter. Jean-Charles was the leading opposition voice against the former Martelly government and led street protests against his rule. Jean-Charles joined Celestin in rejecting last year’s election results and initially supported the interim government and the decision to rerun the elections from scratch.

More recently, however, Pitit Dessalines has struck a similar tone as the other leading candidates in calling for elections to be held as soon as possible after hurricane Matthew.  The party has also expressed discontent with the electoral apparatus and interim government and called for greater transparency, especially in the vote counting process.

Campaigning against the traditional ruling elite and transnational control of Haiti, Jean-Charles is perhaps the candidate most feared by many in the international community and business sector. Partially as a result, his campaign has suffered from a lack of funds and Jean-Charles has been far less visible this year than he was last year. Without a foil in office such as president Martelly, Jean-Charles could have a harder time motivating his supporters this time around, especially with the lack of funding.

The party can draw from its bases in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, the country’s two largest cities, but it is unclear if it has been able to extend its reach throughout all departments.

Pitit Dessalines and Moïse Jean-Charles have likely been the movement most impacted by the reemergence of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide during this year’s campaign. Jean-Charles was a popular youth leader in Aristide’s Lavalas movement before splitting with the party in recent years.

Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the Fanmi Lavalas party, the political movement started by Aristide, came in fourth last year but has put far more resources in to the race this year. Aristide, twice deposed in US-backed coups, was largely confined to his residence after returning from exile in 2011 due to political threats and a questionable house arrest order, but with Martelly out of the picture, he has since returned to the campaign trail, leading caravans across the country with Narcisse.  Aristide appeared just once with Narcisse during the 2015 campaign.

The Lavalas party has been prevented from participating in politics in the past, and this is the first political campaign where Aristide has been in country and able to campaign since his 2004 ouster. Still, the party faces significant constraints. While Aristide is still able to generate support, he is also a highly polarizing figure with many among the upper and middle classes associating the former leader with violence, corruption and political turmoil. Among the left in Haiti, there is concern that the emergence of Aristide will pull votes away from Jean-Charles and allow for the passage of the two elite-backed candidates, Celestin and Jovenel Moïse to move on to a second round. Never the less, an alliance between Narcisse and Jean-Charles has never been seriously pursued.

The head of the electoral authority, Leopold Berlanger, was a leader of the opposition to Aristide that resulted in the 2004 coup, raising concerns about the impartiality of the electoral apparatus. The presence of industrialist Andy Apaid as an advisor to Berlanger working at the vote tabulation center – though since removed from his position – has added to the lack of trust.

Lavalas has come under criticism recently after Aristide was recorded at a campaign event last week calling for electoral protests if there is not a new president by February 7th. Some have interpreted the remarks as a threat of violence and Aristide was called in for questioning by the electoral council last week. Lavalas leaders have characterized the event as just a misinterpretation. Many other parties and candidates have made incendiary remarks over the last year and a half, without ever facing potential ramifications or questioning from the electoral authority.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here.

In a crowded field of 54 presidential candidates, the top two finishers in last year’s elections were Jovenel Moïse (PHTK) and Jude Celestin (LAPEH). Third and fourth were Moïse Jean-Charles (Platfom Pitit Dessalines) and Maryse Narcisse (Fanmi Lavalas). Although the earlier vote was plagued by fraud and irregularities and the results were eventually discarded, the top four finishers on October 25, 2015 are expected to lead the pack of 27 candidates participating on Sunday, November 20. Here is a closer look at the principal candidates heading into this weekend’s election:

Jovenel Moïse is PHTK’s candidate. Prior to the 2015 elections when former President Martelly selected Moïse as his successor, the lanky agricultural businessman from the North was a political unknown. Moïse’s company Agritrans runs a banana plantation primarily for export in Trou-du-Nord and was set up with government financing under Martelly’s administration. During the campaign, Moïse has branded himself as “The Banana Man” (Nèg Bannann Nan). He promises to revitalize Haiti’s neglected agriculture and to remobilize Haiti’s military, which was disbanded in 1995.

While in office, Martelly campaigned aggressively for Moïse and was accused of using state resources to promote his party’s candidate. For this reason, Moïse was perceived by many as a weak Martelly surrogate. One irony of the long delay since last year’s vote is that PHTK’s Moïse may actually be in a better position now. Time has allowed him to step out from under Martelly’s shadow, posing as an opponent to the provisional government rather than the ruling party’s candidate. PHTK and its political allies in the parliament have accused the interim government and the CEP of being biased in favor of “Lavalas” and claimed that the elections may be rigged against them. They have also consistently questioned the legitimacy of the provisional president, even at one point calling on police officers to disobey orders.

After the Hurricane, PHTK leaders threatened the provisional government with street protests and legislative action if elections were not held within weeks of the storm and have been publicizing polling (notoriously suspect in Haiti) that shows Jovenel Moïse with the highest level of support among presidential candidates.

Haiti’s interminable election cycle has depleted the finances of many parties, but although PHTK is facing similar problems, they are likely the party with the deepest pockets. With greater access to resources, the party was able to continue to campaign – including in the hurricane-hit south where Moïse distributed aid to victims. Well-financed and with a cadre of international election advisors, PHTK has many factors working in their favor.

In their quest for the presidency, PHTK has allied with local politicians that, in some cases, have been tied to corruption, drug trafficking and other wrongdoing. Though the campaign has distanced itself from Martelly, there is lingering dissatisfaction with the previous government, bolstered by recent allegations of corruption, which could weigh on voter’s minds Sunday.

Jude Celestin, the second-place finisher in last year’s election and the leading figure in the boycott movement, is the candidate of Ligue alternative pour le progrès et l’émancipation haïtienne (LAPEH). In the 2010 election, Celestin competed under the banner of INITE, the party of then-president René Préval. Those elections were also plagued by widespread fraud, violence and irregularities, many stemming from the fact that elections were held in the same year as the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left more than a million displaced. An Organization of American States (OAS) commission recommended changing the results, removing Celestin from the race and replacing him with Michel Martelly, without providing evidence that Martelly had actually received more votes than Celestin. The US then issued diplomatic threats, including a possible cut off of desperately needed post-earthquake aid, in order force the Haitian government to accept the changes.

Many expected Celestin to eventually call off the boycott and participate in last year’s second-round election, but his position was unwavering and led to the cancellation of the election. His supporters consider him a savior for preventing the fraudulent elections from standing; adversaries see him as the primary cause of the political instability of the last year. After 2010 and his role in cancelling last year’s election, Celestin hasn’t made many friends in the international community, though many close to him have worked over the last year to reestablish a relationship.

Celestin has championed his boycott’s role in getting the rerun, and has pointed to his experience at CNE, the national construction company, to present himself as a builder who knows how to get things done. After the Hurricane, Celestin offered to rebuild a key bridge and construction equipment was seen plastered with his campaign image.

With the provisional president Privert coming from an allied political party, Celestin is perceived to have benefitted from the change in leadership. But it is important to note that the interim government consists of politicians from many different movements and it would be a mistake to think all, or even most, are willing or able to help his campaign.

Still Celestin, similar to PHTK, has received significant private sector backing and can likely count on support from those sectors that have historically been allied with President Préval, giving him a political machine that should be able to generate votes on election day. Still, it is interesting to note that of the three former presidents currently active in politics, Préval is the only one to not openly endorse a candidate. University professor Jacky Lumarque was Préval’s chosen candidate, but was excluded from participating by the previous electoral council under Martelly.

Moïse Jean-Charles, a former Senator from the North department, finished third in last year’s election and is once again expected to be a top vote getter. Jean-Charles was the leading opposition voice against the former Martelly government and led street protests against his rule. Jean-Charles joined Celestin in rejecting last year’s election results and initially supported the interim government and the decision to rerun the elections from scratch.

More recently, however, Pitit Dessalines has struck a similar tone as the other leading candidates in calling for elections to be held as soon as possible after hurricane Matthew.  The party has also expressed discontent with the electoral apparatus and interim government and called for greater transparency, especially in the vote counting process.

Campaigning against the traditional ruling elite and transnational control of Haiti, Jean-Charles is perhaps the candidate most feared by many in the international community and business sector. Partially as a result, his campaign has suffered from a lack of funds and Jean-Charles has been far less visible this year than he was last year. Without a foil in office such as president Martelly, Jean-Charles could have a harder time motivating his supporters this time around, especially with the lack of funding.

The party can draw from its bases in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, the country’s two largest cities, but it is unclear if it has been able to extend its reach throughout all departments.

Pitit Dessalines and Moïse Jean-Charles have likely been the movement most impacted by the reemergence of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide during this year’s campaign. Jean-Charles was a popular youth leader in Aristide’s Lavalas movement before splitting with the party in recent years.

Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the Fanmi Lavalas party, the political movement started by Aristide, came in fourth last year but has put far more resources in to the race this year. Aristide, twice deposed in US-backed coups, was largely confined to his residence after returning from exile in 2011 due to political threats and a questionable house arrest order, but with Martelly out of the picture, he has since returned to the campaign trail, leading caravans across the country with Narcisse.  Aristide appeared just once with Narcisse during the 2015 campaign.

The Lavalas party has been prevented from participating in politics in the past, and this is the first political campaign where Aristide has been in country and able to campaign since his 2004 ouster. Still, the party faces significant constraints. While Aristide is still able to generate support, he is also a highly polarizing figure with many among the upper and middle classes associating the former leader with violence, corruption and political turmoil. Among the left in Haiti, there is concern that the emergence of Aristide will pull votes away from Jean-Charles and allow for the passage of the two elite-backed candidates, Celestin and Jovenel Moïse to move on to a second round. Never the less, an alliance between Narcisse and Jean-Charles has never been seriously pursued.

The head of the electoral authority, Leopold Berlanger, was a leader of the opposition to Aristide that resulted in the 2004 coup, raising concerns about the impartiality of the electoral apparatus. The presence of industrialist Andy Apaid as an advisor to Berlanger working at the vote tabulation center – though since removed from his position – has added to the lack of trust.

Lavalas has come under criticism recently after Aristide was recorded at a campaign event last week calling for electoral protests if there is not a new president by February 7th. Some have interpreted the remarks as a threat of violence and Aristide was called in for questioning by the electoral council last week. Lavalas leaders have characterized the event as just a misinterpretation. Many other parties and candidates have made incendiary remarks over the last year and a half, without ever facing potential ramifications or questioning from the electoral authority.

Less than a week from now, on November 20, Haiti heads to the polls to choose a new president as well as dozens of legislative seats. The electoral process started in 2015 but has been repeatedly delayed and postponed due to post-election protests, candidates’ boycotts, and more recently Hurricane Matthew. The results of last October’s first-round presidential election were thrown out on the recommendation of an independent investigative commission that identified significant levels of fraud and other irregularities. Below is a timeline that traces the major events of Haiti’s extended electoral saga:

December 2014 – January 2015: Protests force Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to step down as the terms of many parliamentarians expire. President Michel Martelly’s government had not held elections for its first four years in office, allowing the president to begin ruling by decree. A new Prime Minister and CEP are appointed, tasked with organizing the legislative and presidential votes.

August 9, 2015: First-round legislative elections are so marred by violence and fraud that many races cannot be completed and must be re-run again in about a quarter of constituencies.

October 25, 2015: The first-round presidential election is held, alongside legislative reruns as well as legislative second-round elections in some localities. The elections are rejected by a growing opposition movement that alleges widespread fraud on behalf of the ruling party and its candidate, Jovenel Moise of the Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), who came in first according to the official results.

December 17, 2015: Facing increasing criticism ahead of the planned December 27 runoff, president Martelly announces a commission to investigate the elections. Given just a few days to perform its work, the commission finds significant problems and makes a number of recommendations for moving the electoral process forward.

December 21, 2015: The scheduled runoff election is postponed. Before the commission’s recommendations can be adopted, a new runoff is scheduled for January 24.

January 11, 2016: Despite growing concerns about fraud-tainted electoral results, a partial legislature is seated, consisting of 92 newly-elected deputies and 24 senators. Races for 6 senators and 26 deputies remain incomplete.

January 22, 2016: The second-round presidential and legislative elections are indefinitely called off. Second-place finisher Jude Celestin (LAPEH) had pledged to boycott the second-round and was joined by seven other opposition presidential candidates. This stance was supported by the vast majority of civil society organizations, including human rights groups, church leaders and eventually even the private sector business associations.

February 5, 2016: With Martelly’s term expiring on February 7 and no elected successor to take his place, an agreement is reached to form a transitional government. Senator Jocelerme Privert is soon after selected as interim president and given a mandate of 120 days. The deal dissipated tensions that had been rising due to concerns that Martelly would try to hold on to power. Armed paramilitaries had appeared in Port-au-Prince and clashed with Martelly opponents.

April 30, 2016: President Privert establishes an independent investigation commission to examine fraud claims and restore confidence in the electoral process before continuing with the vote. This decision is opposed by PHTK and its political allies – who are well represented in the recently-seated parliament – as well as many actors in the international community, including the European Union (EU) and the United States.

June 6, 2016: The independent commission recommends rerunning the first round presidential vote and a new electoral council announces new first-round elections scheduled for October 9, 2016. The EU observation team pulls out of the country and the US pulls funding from the election after the decision.

June 14, 2016: The interim president’s mandate expires, but parliament is unable to reach a quorum to either replace the leader or extend his term due to obstruction by the pro-PHTK bloc. Privert’s opponents refuse to recognize him as a legitimate leader and question each decision made by the interim authorities, accusing them of simply wanting to perpetuate themselves in power.

Oct 4-5, 2016: Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm, ravages the country – specifically the southern peninsula – just days before the new elections were set to take place. The election was once again postponed. One week before the scheduled October 9 vote, prospects for the vote were hopeful. Preparations were in place, electoral materials had arrived in country and were being prepared for distribution, new safeguards against fraud and abuse had been implemented and candidates had taken to the campaign trail.

Oct 14, 2016: Facing immense pressure from political actors to hold the election as soon as possible, the CEP issues a new electoral schedule calling for elections November 20. Electoral infrastructure, especially in the southern peninsula, is severely damaged with many voting centers being used as temporary shelters. The new date means that there will not be an elected president in office by February 7, as initially expected.

However with a dire humanitarian situation still raging in the southern peninsula, electoral infrastructure severely damaged and ongoing flooding in various parts of the country, skepticism remains high as to if a legitimate and free election is possible this weekend, or if it will be another blow to Haiti’s fragile democracy.

Up next, Haiti Election Primer, Part 2: The Parties, Parliament and the International Community

Less than a week from now, on November 20, Haiti heads to the polls to choose a new president as well as dozens of legislative seats. The electoral process started in 2015 but has been repeatedly delayed and postponed due to post-election protests, candidates’ boycotts, and more recently Hurricane Matthew. The results of last October’s first-round presidential election were thrown out on the recommendation of an independent investigative commission that identified significant levels of fraud and other irregularities. Below is a timeline that traces the major events of Haiti’s extended electoral saga:

December 2014 – January 2015: Protests force Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to step down as the terms of many parliamentarians expire. President Michel Martelly’s government had not held elections for its first four years in office, allowing the president to begin ruling by decree. A new Prime Minister and CEP are appointed, tasked with organizing the legislative and presidential votes.

August 9, 2015: First-round legislative elections are so marred by violence and fraud that many races cannot be completed and must be re-run again in about a quarter of constituencies.

October 25, 2015: The first-round presidential election is held, alongside legislative reruns as well as legislative second-round elections in some localities. The elections are rejected by a growing opposition movement that alleges widespread fraud on behalf of the ruling party and its candidate, Jovenel Moise of the Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), who came in first according to the official results.

December 17, 2015: Facing increasing criticism ahead of the planned December 27 runoff, president Martelly announces a commission to investigate the elections. Given just a few days to perform its work, the commission finds significant problems and makes a number of recommendations for moving the electoral process forward.

December 21, 2015: The scheduled runoff election is postponed. Before the commission’s recommendations can be adopted, a new runoff is scheduled for January 24.

January 11, 2016: Despite growing concerns about fraud-tainted electoral results, a partial legislature is seated, consisting of 92 newly-elected deputies and 24 senators. Races for 6 senators and 26 deputies remain incomplete.

January 22, 2016: The second-round presidential and legislative elections are indefinitely called off. Second-place finisher Jude Celestin (LAPEH) had pledged to boycott the second-round and was joined by seven other opposition presidential candidates. This stance was supported by the vast majority of civil society organizations, including human rights groups, church leaders and eventually even the private sector business associations.

February 5, 2016: With Martelly’s term expiring on February 7 and no elected successor to take his place, an agreement is reached to form a transitional government. Senator Jocelerme Privert is soon after selected as interim president and given a mandate of 120 days. The deal dissipated tensions that had been rising due to concerns that Martelly would try to hold on to power. Armed paramilitaries had appeared in Port-au-Prince and clashed with Martelly opponents.

April 30, 2016: President Privert establishes an independent investigation commission to examine fraud claims and restore confidence in the electoral process before continuing with the vote. This decision is opposed by PHTK and its political allies – who are well represented in the recently-seated parliament – as well as many actors in the international community, including the European Union (EU) and the United States.

June 6, 2016: The independent commission recommends rerunning the first round presidential vote and a new electoral council announces new first-round elections scheduled for October 9, 2016. The EU observation team pulls out of the country and the US pulls funding from the election after the decision.

June 14, 2016: The interim president’s mandate expires, but parliament is unable to reach a quorum to either replace the leader or extend his term due to obstruction by the pro-PHTK bloc. Privert’s opponents refuse to recognize him as a legitimate leader and question each decision made by the interim authorities, accusing them of simply wanting to perpetuate themselves in power.

Oct 4-5, 2016: Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm, ravages the country – specifically the southern peninsula – just days before the new elections were set to take place. The election was once again postponed. One week before the scheduled October 9 vote, prospects for the vote were hopeful. Preparations were in place, electoral materials had arrived in country and were being prepared for distribution, new safeguards against fraud and abuse had been implemented and candidates had taken to the campaign trail.

Oct 14, 2016: Facing immense pressure from political actors to hold the election as soon as possible, the CEP issues a new electoral schedule calling for elections November 20. Electoral infrastructure, especially in the southern peninsula, is severely damaged with many voting centers being used as temporary shelters. The new date means that there will not be an elected president in office by February 7, as initially expected.

However with a dire humanitarian situation still raging in the southern peninsula, electoral infrastructure severely damaged and ongoing flooding in various parts of the country, skepticism remains high as to if a legitimate and free election is possible this weekend, or if it will be another blow to Haiti’s fragile democracy.

Up next, Haiti Election Primer, Part 2: The Parties, Parliament and the International Community

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