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.

Haiti’s internationally backed electoral process was thrown further into disarray yesterday as a leading political party announced its withdrawal from the electoral process. In a press statement, the Vérité platform, closely associated with former president René Préval, said it was pulling out of the elections because it was the primary victim of the August 9 “electoral mess,” and called for a “good” electoral council in order to “run a good election.”

Haiti’s August 9 election was characterized by extremely low voter turnout, with just 18 percent of registered voters going to the polls. Additionally, nearly one-quarter of all votes were never counted due to violence on election day, problems transporting ballots and other issues. In 25 of the 119 races for deputy, elections will need to be re-run due to the scale of irregularities. Over the last month, an increasingly large cadre of candidates has taken to the streets, leading protests against the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and a government who they claim has rigged the process.

Also yesterday, INITE, Préval’s former political movement, called on its representative, Ariel Henry to leave the “consensus” government that has run the country since the terms of parliament expired in January. To “remain part of a government that has undertaken and continues this electoral coup of August 9, would be contrary to our principles, our democratic ideals,” the party stated in its letter to President Martelly.

Preliminary results released last month showed Vérité candidates advancing to the second round in 30 of the 85 races that were counted and where no candidate won in the first round, second only to President Martelly’s PHTK. Vérité has mulled the decision to withdraw for some time, as the party’s presidential candidate, Jacky Lumarque, was excluded from participating after originally being accepted. The CEP, after announcing the final list of candidates, kicked Lumarque out of the race because he had been named to a presidential commission under former president Préval and therefore needed a discharge document. Despite a ruling from Haiti’s highest court in favor of Lumarque, the CEP has maintained the exclusion and Vérité has led regular protests for his reentry into the race.

While Vérité has consistently denounced flaws in the electoral process, it has been accused by opposition groups of being close to the governing party and being one of the main benefactors of the recent election. And it’s true; there may never have been an election without the support of Préval.

At least as early as November 2014, senior United States diplomats began to meet with the former president and others deemed to be in the more “moderate” opposition. At the time, with delayed elections still not scheduled and terms of sitting parliamentarians expiring in January, Haiti was engulfed by a growing protest movement calling for the departure of President Martelly and the holding of elections. There needed to be a compromise that would move Haiti toward elections and remove the instability from the streets; Préval, whom the U.S. described as “Haiti’s indispensable man” in a 2009 diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, was the one to do it.

In a State Department cable ahead of a trip to Haiti by State Department counselor Tom Shannon – dated October 29, 2014 and released through a Freedom of Information Act request – U.S. Ambassador Pamela White wrote that Shannon’s “meetings with key players will be a chance to convey continued U.S. support for dialogue in order to achieve consensus and hold elections as soon as it is technically feasible.” White continues, “If consultations are to bear any fruit the moderate opposition and the Executive will need to urgently engage in dialogue with a defined and agreed upon agenda. We will continue to urge all parties to engage constructively between now and January.”

Martelly would eventually name a presidential advisory commission to recommend a way out of the crisis and toward elections. The commission’s report called for Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s resignation, the removal of a judicial official, the formation of a new electoral council, and a consensus government. On December 10, Ambassador White wrote that the actions “address many of the political opposition’s most pressing concerns.” The commission was led by industrialist Reginald Boulos and also included Evans Paul, since named Prime Minister.

A source with knowledge of the discussions said that it was Paul himself who suggested the advisory commission during a mid-November meeting with the so-called “moderate opposition,” which also included Ambassador White. A little over a month later, Martelly would nominate Evans Paul to be prime minister.  Boulos, a leader in the Private Sector Economic Forum, is seen as the key force behind Pierre Louis Opont’s ascension to the head of the CEP.

No deal was ever reached to extend the terms of parliament or ratify Evans Paul as prime minister. But, with no functioning parliament after January 12, Evans Paul became de facto prime minister. On the day that parliamentarians’ terms expired, Paul met with Préval to try to build a consensus around his new government. The focus was on bringing the “moderate” opposition into the fold, as the U.S. had suggested – namely INITE and another party, Fusion.

One week later, the government announced a new cabinet. While many officials were hold-overs from previous Martelly governments, there were a few new faces, including representatives of both Fusion and INITE. Importantly, INITE was given the post of minister of the interior, which oversees local municipalities, seen as key for upcoming local and legislative elections.

While many in the opposition were not satisfied by the new government’s formation, an electoral timetable was announced the following month and the street protests eventually receded from the headlines.  

But now, with two elections still scheduled this year, the political consensus which moved the process forward has fallen apart. Fusion’s three cabinet members resigned in early August in protest after Martelly made lewd and degrading remarks to a woman at a campaign rally in late July. Earlier in the day yesterday, before Vérité or INITE’s statements had been made public, the government announced a cabinet shift, naming replacements for the three Fusion members and moving Ariel Henry, INITE’s lone representative, from minister of the interior to minister of social affairs. Hours later Henry was instructed to resign. The new minister of the interior, Ardouin Zéphirin, was previously the departmental delegate to the North department, a position appointed by the executive. The North is the home department of PHTK presidential candidate Jovenel Moïse.

With Vérité’s announcement to withdraw from the electoral process, and INITE and Fusion’s departure from the government, it appears that the “consensus” government and the political alliances that moved Haiti toward the current electoral process have been broken.

Haiti’s internationally backed electoral process was thrown further into disarray yesterday as a leading political party announced its withdrawal from the electoral process. In a press statement, the Vérité platform, closely associated with former president René Préval, said it was pulling out of the elections because it was the primary victim of the August 9 “electoral mess,” and called for a “good” electoral council in order to “run a good election.”

Haiti’s August 9 election was characterized by extremely low voter turnout, with just 18 percent of registered voters going to the polls. Additionally, nearly one-quarter of all votes were never counted due to violence on election day, problems transporting ballots and other issues. In 25 of the 119 races for deputy, elections will need to be re-run due to the scale of irregularities. Over the last month, an increasingly large cadre of candidates has taken to the streets, leading protests against the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and a government who they claim has rigged the process.

Also yesterday, INITE, Préval’s former political movement, called on its representative, Ariel Henry to leave the “consensus” government that has run the country since the terms of parliament expired in January. To “remain part of a government that has undertaken and continues this electoral coup of August 9, would be contrary to our principles, our democratic ideals,” the party stated in its letter to President Martelly.

Preliminary results released last month showed Vérité candidates advancing to the second round in 30 of the 85 races that were counted and where no candidate won in the first round, second only to President Martelly’s PHTK. Vérité has mulled the decision to withdraw for some time, as the party’s presidential candidate, Jacky Lumarque, was excluded from participating after originally being accepted. The CEP, after announcing the final list of candidates, kicked Lumarque out of the race because he had been named to a presidential commission under former president Préval and therefore needed a discharge document. Despite a ruling from Haiti’s highest court in favor of Lumarque, the CEP has maintained the exclusion and Vérité has led regular protests for his reentry into the race.

While Vérité has consistently denounced flaws in the electoral process, it has been accused by opposition groups of being close to the governing party and being one of the main benefactors of the recent election. And it’s true; there may never have been an election without the support of Préval.

At least as early as November 2014, senior United States diplomats began to meet with the former president and others deemed to be in the more “moderate” opposition. At the time, with delayed elections still not scheduled and terms of sitting parliamentarians expiring in January, Haiti was engulfed by a growing protest movement calling for the departure of President Martelly and the holding of elections. There needed to be a compromise that would move Haiti toward elections and remove the instability from the streets; Préval, whom the U.S. described as “Haiti’s indispensable man” in a 2009 diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, was the one to do it.

In a State Department cable ahead of a trip to Haiti by State Department counselor Tom Shannon – dated October 29, 2014 and released through a Freedom of Information Act request – U.S. Ambassador Pamela White wrote that Shannon’s “meetings with key players will be a chance to convey continued U.S. support for dialogue in order to achieve consensus and hold elections as soon as it is technically feasible.” White continues, “If consultations are to bear any fruit the moderate opposition and the Executive will need to urgently engage in dialogue with a defined and agreed upon agenda. We will continue to urge all parties to engage constructively between now and January.”

Martelly would eventually name a presidential advisory commission to recommend a way out of the crisis and toward elections. The commission’s report called for Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s resignation, the removal of a judicial official, the formation of a new electoral council, and a consensus government. On December 10, Ambassador White wrote that the actions “address many of the political opposition’s most pressing concerns.” The commission was led by industrialist Reginald Boulos and also included Evans Paul, since named Prime Minister.

A source with knowledge of the discussions said that it was Paul himself who suggested the advisory commission during a mid-November meeting with the so-called “moderate opposition,” which also included Ambassador White. A little over a month later, Martelly would nominate Evans Paul to be prime minister.  Boulos, a leader in the Private Sector Economic Forum, is seen as the key force behind Pierre Louis Opont’s ascension to the head of the CEP.

No deal was ever reached to extend the terms of parliament or ratify Evans Paul as prime minister. But, with no functioning parliament after January 12, Evans Paul became de facto prime minister. On the day that parliamentarians’ terms expired, Paul met with Préval to try to build a consensus around his new government. The focus was on bringing the “moderate” opposition into the fold, as the U.S. had suggested – namely INITE and another party, Fusion.

One week later, the government announced a new cabinet. While many officials were hold-overs from previous Martelly governments, there were a few new faces, including representatives of both Fusion and INITE. Importantly, INITE was given the post of minister of the interior, which oversees local municipalities, seen as key for upcoming local and legislative elections.

While many in the opposition were not satisfied by the new government’s formation, an electoral timetable was announced the following month and the street protests eventually receded from the headlines.  

But now, with two elections still scheduled this year, the political consensus which moved the process forward has fallen apart. Fusion’s three cabinet members resigned in early August in protest after Martelly made lewd and degrading remarks to a woman at a campaign rally in late July. Earlier in the day yesterday, before Vérité or INITE’s statements had been made public, the government announced a cabinet shift, naming replacements for the three Fusion members and moving Ariel Henry, INITE’s lone representative, from minister of the interior to minister of social affairs. Hours later Henry was instructed to resign. The new minister of the interior, Ardouin Zéphirin, was previously the departmental delegate to the North department, a position appointed by the executive. The North is the home department of PHTK presidential candidate Jovenel Moïse.

With Vérité’s announcement to withdraw from the electoral process, and INITE and Fusion’s departure from the government, it appears that the “consensus” government and the political alliances that moved Haiti toward the current electoral process have been broken.

A local Haitian observation group has released a detailed report from election day, calling into question the legitimacy of the vote in many areas throughout Haiti. The group, made up of RNDDH, CNO and CONHANE, had observers present in 48 percent of voting centers throughout the country. The observers state that in more than 60 percent of polling centers where they were present there was massive fraud or attempted fraud, serious irregularities, intimidation and violent or aggressive acts.

The report continues:

The executive authorities, officials of the electoral body as well as many political parties and candidates each share a part of the blame for what can be considered an electoral fiasco. 

In effect, after having spent four (4) years in power without holding elections that the people were calling for, after having spent four (4) years procrastinating and trying to place the blame on other actors involved in the elections, the executive authorities produced these electoral contests where the political parties of the ruling power, namely PHTK and Réseau National Bouclier Haîtien, have been identified as being, on the day of the election, the most aggressive in the perpetration of fraud and the use of electoral violence as a means to success.

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has announced that elections will be re-run in 25 areas where the number of tally sheets counted was below 70 percent. The Senate election in the Artibonite will also be re-run in October. The local observers, however have questioned the transparency of this decision:

The CEP has not provided any information about the handling, at the level of the Tabulation Center, of the numerous irregularities related to ballot-box stuffing and vote fraud reported during the election of August 9 2015. 

Moreover, the decision of the CEP to validate results from a Voting Center based on the relatively low threshold of 70% of tally sheets risks causing serious prejudice to candidates who were the target of violence by their opponents.

Although the CEP never produced a full list of voting centers that were closed or where significant problems ensued, the local observer report lists 104 voting centers where “massive fraud” and violence took place and where the voting was stopped, at least temporarily. Although Haiti’s electoral law specifically states that the suspension of the vote is not, in and of itself, grounds to annul an election, the closures, coupled with reports of fraud and violence certainly raises the question of whether results from these voting centers should be counted at all.

An analysis of the 104 voting centers where massive fraud and violence took place showed that in many cases the CEP never received any tally sheets from the centers. However, many voting centers that are listed by RNDDH produced tally sheets which were eventually accepted and counted by the CEP.  If those additional tally sheets were excluded from the final results, many different races, at both the deputy and senate level would fall below the CEP’s 70 percent threshold.

To demonstrate how sensitive the CEP’s threshold is to small changes in the number of tally sheets accepted and counted, the breakdown below shows the impact of excluding tally sheets from voting centers listed in the local observer report.

Note: PVs are tally sheets produced from each Bureau du Vote (BV). Totals PVs is the total number of PVs if each BV in a given area had produced a tally sheet.

As can be seen, by removing tally sheets from voting centers listed by the RNDDH-led local observer group, four additional departments would need to re-run Senate elections: the Nord, Centre, Grand Anse and Ouest.

Half of PHTK’s eight Senate candidates advancing to the second round come from these departments and all four of Bouclier’s do as well. Verite would lose three of its seven Senate candidates. Both Bouclier and PHTK were warned by the CEP for their involvement in electoral violence in three of the four departments where Senate elections would no longer stand. Verite was singled out for its role in electoral violence in the Nord and Ouest departments, both areas where the party advanced Senate candidates.

The exclusion of additional tally sheets by the CEP would also impact the results of a number of races for Deputy, as can be seen below.

In addition to the 25 areas where the CEP has already announced elections will be re-run, the removal of tally sheets from the RNDDH list of voting centers puts 13 additional areas under the CEP’s 70 percent threshold. 

In Port-au-Prince’s second district, the only polling center which appeared on the local observer report list and had tally sheets counted by the CEP was the Canape-Vert Market. According to the results released by the CEP, 16 of the 32 tally sheets from the market were never received, but the other 16 were counted. Simply by removing those additional 16 sheets, the district falls below the 70 percent threshold. 

It is important to keep in mind as well that the local observers state that their list is only partial and based on their own observations. It’s likely that many more voting centers throughout the country experienced similar problems and tally sheets were still counted. 

Certainly it may be the case that not all the voting centers listed experienced irregularities that require all the votes to be discarded, however the analysis above clearly shows the arbitrary nature of the CEP’s low threshold and the need for further transparency from the organization in terms of how it is determining which votes count and which are discarded. 

A local Haitian observation group has released a detailed report from election day, calling into question the legitimacy of the vote in many areas throughout Haiti. The group, made up of RNDDH, CNO and CONHANE, had observers present in 48 percent of voting centers throughout the country. The observers state that in more than 60 percent of polling centers where they were present there was massive fraud or attempted fraud, serious irregularities, intimidation and violent or aggressive acts.

The report continues:

The executive authorities, officials of the electoral body as well as many political parties and candidates each share a part of the blame for what can be considered an electoral fiasco. 

In effect, after having spent four (4) years in power without holding elections that the people were calling for, after having spent four (4) years procrastinating and trying to place the blame on other actors involved in the elections, the executive authorities produced these electoral contests where the political parties of the ruling power, namely PHTK and Réseau National Bouclier Haîtien, have been identified as being, on the day of the election, the most aggressive in the perpetration of fraud and the use of electoral violence as a means to success.

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has announced that elections will be re-run in 25 areas where the number of tally sheets counted was below 70 percent. The Senate election in the Artibonite will also be re-run in October. The local observers, however have questioned the transparency of this decision:

The CEP has not provided any information about the handling, at the level of the Tabulation Center, of the numerous irregularities related to ballot-box stuffing and vote fraud reported during the election of August 9 2015. 

Moreover, the decision of the CEP to validate results from a Voting Center based on the relatively low threshold of 70% of tally sheets risks causing serious prejudice to candidates who were the target of violence by their opponents.

Although the CEP never produced a full list of voting centers that were closed or where significant problems ensued, the local observer report lists 104 voting centers where “massive fraud” and violence took place and where the voting was stopped, at least temporarily. Although Haiti’s electoral law specifically states that the suspension of the vote is not, in and of itself, grounds to annul an election, the closures, coupled with reports of fraud and violence certainly raises the question of whether results from these voting centers should be counted at all.

An analysis of the 104 voting centers where massive fraud and violence took place showed that in many cases the CEP never received any tally sheets from the centers. However, many voting centers that are listed by RNDDH produced tally sheets which were eventually accepted and counted by the CEP.  If those additional tally sheets were excluded from the final results, many different races, at both the deputy and senate level would fall below the CEP’s 70 percent threshold.

To demonstrate how sensitive the CEP’s threshold is to small changes in the number of tally sheets accepted and counted, the breakdown below shows the impact of excluding tally sheets from voting centers listed in the local observer report.

Note: PVs are tally sheets produced from each Bureau du Vote (BV). Totals PVs is the total number of PVs if each BV in a given area had produced a tally sheet.

As can be seen, by removing tally sheets from voting centers listed by the RNDDH-led local observer group, four additional departments would need to re-run Senate elections: the Nord, Centre, Grand Anse and Ouest.

Half of PHTK’s eight Senate candidates advancing to the second round come from these departments and all four of Bouclier’s do as well. Verite would lose three of its seven Senate candidates. Both Bouclier and PHTK were warned by the CEP for their involvement in electoral violence in three of the four departments where Senate elections would no longer stand. Verite was singled out for its role in electoral violence in the Nord and Ouest departments, both areas where the party advanced Senate candidates.

The exclusion of additional tally sheets by the CEP would also impact the results of a number of races for Deputy, as can be seen below.

In addition to the 25 areas where the CEP has already announced elections will be re-run, the removal of tally sheets from the RNDDH list of voting centers puts 13 additional areas under the CEP’s 70 percent threshold. 

In Port-au-Prince’s second district, the only polling center which appeared on the local observer report list and had tally sheets counted by the CEP was the Canape-Vert Market. According to the results released by the CEP, 16 of the 32 tally sheets from the market were never received, but the other 16 were counted. Simply by removing those additional 16 sheets, the district falls below the 70 percent threshold. 

It is important to keep in mind as well that the local observers state that their list is only partial and based on their own observations. It’s likely that many more voting centers throughout the country experienced similar problems and tally sheets were still counted. 

Certainly it may be the case that not all the voting centers listed experienced irregularities that require all the votes to be discarded, however the analysis above clearly shows the arbitrary nature of the CEP’s low threshold and the need for further transparency from the organization in terms of how it is determining which votes count and which are discarded. 

The following is cross-posted from the Haiti Elections Blog, which was created to help promote the free access to information and accountability within the electoral process. The blog is co-managed by several non-governmental organizations who work with and within Haiti. 

On August 24, the CEP issued a warning to political parties that further acts of disorder would not be tolerated by the electoral council. In a communiqué, the CEP “deplored” the fact that candidates and their sympathizers had “disrupted” the voting on August 9, “ransacking Voting Centers and stealing voting materials.” If a party’s candidates, members or supporters commit similar acts again, that party’s candidates will be excluded from the race in the affected constituency (“circonscription”), the CEP warned.

The CEP identified 8 of 10 departments where such incidents occurred and identified the parties guilty of election-day disruptions in each department. Only in Nippes and the Nord-Est were no parties warned for involvement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the 16 parties named by the CEP, PHTK and Bouclier were the ones most often singled out for blame. President Martelly’s PHTK was reprimanded for perturbing the vote in 6 different departments on August 9, while Bouclier – a party widely perceived to be an ally of PHTK – was cited in 4.

Disturbingly, what the CEP’s communiqué seems to show is that causing trouble goes hand-in-hand with electoral success. 

President Martelly’s PHTK leads all parties with 25 first-place Deputy candidates going into the second round. Of those 25 leading candidates, 17 come from departments where PHTK engaged in electoral abuses, according to the CEP’s communiqué. Similarly, 9 of Verité’s 14 Deputy candidates leading after the first round are from departments where the party caused disorder.

For PHTK’s Senate candidates, 4 out of 8 going to the second round come from departments where the party’s behaviour was criticized by the CEP. The same goes for a majority (7 of 11) of the second-round Senate candidates for the next two leading parties, Verité (4 of 7) and Bouclier (3 of 4).

In the absence of action taken to exclude the offenders, candidates from political parties issued warnings by the CEP will dominate the second round of the legislative elections in many departments. This is the case even when the 25 constituencies that the CEP has said will have their elections rerun are excluded from the analysis.

For the Artibonite, Nord, Centre, Ouest and Sud departments, 3 of 4 first-round Deputy winners and 34 of 47 first-place candidates heading to the second round come from parties cited by the CEP for causing disorder on election day. The outlook for the Senate races, where each department is electing two representatives, is much the same for these departments. In the Artibonite, Nord, Centre, Ouest and Sud, candidates from reprimanded parties hold the top two places (and are thus favourites going into the second round) for 8 of 10 Senate seats up for grabs, and make up 14 of 20 Senate candidates overall going to the second round. Only in the Artibonite, however, will the Senate race be redone.

The CEP, by issuing its warning, may have inadvertently demonstrated that the flaws of the August 9 elections go far beyond the 25 constituencies slated to be rerun. Whether the offending parties get more than just a slap on the wrist remains to be seen.

Major parties cited by CEP communiqué (department)

PHTK (Artibonite, Centre, Nord, Ouest, Nord-Ouest, Sud)

Bouclier (Artibonite, Grand’Anse, Nord, Ouest)

Verité (Nord, Ouest, Sud)

KID (Artibonite, Centre, Sud)

Candidates from parties responsible for election-day violence and disorder, selected departments

1st place Deputy

Artibonite: 3 of 6

Centre: 5 of 7

Nord: 7 of 8

Ouest: 9 of 14

Sud: 10 of 12

1st or 2nd place Senate (going to second round)

Artibonite: 2 of 2 (3 of 4)

Centre: 2 of 2 (3 of 4)

Nord: 2 of 2 (4 of 4)

Ouest: 1 of 2 (2 of 4)

Sud: 1 of 2 (2 of 4)

The following is cross-posted from the Haiti Elections Blog, which was created to help promote the free access to information and accountability within the electoral process. The blog is co-managed by several non-governmental organizations who work with and within Haiti. 

On August 24, the CEP issued a warning to political parties that further acts of disorder would not be tolerated by the electoral council. In a communiqué, the CEP “deplored” the fact that candidates and their sympathizers had “disrupted” the voting on August 9, “ransacking Voting Centers and stealing voting materials.” If a party’s candidates, members or supporters commit similar acts again, that party’s candidates will be excluded from the race in the affected constituency (“circonscription”), the CEP warned.

The CEP identified 8 of 10 departments where such incidents occurred and identified the parties guilty of election-day disruptions in each department. Only in Nippes and the Nord-Est were no parties warned for involvement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the 16 parties named by the CEP, PHTK and Bouclier were the ones most often singled out for blame. President Martelly’s PHTK was reprimanded for perturbing the vote in 6 different departments on August 9, while Bouclier – a party widely perceived to be an ally of PHTK – was cited in 4.

Disturbingly, what the CEP’s communiqué seems to show is that causing trouble goes hand-in-hand with electoral success. 

President Martelly’s PHTK leads all parties with 25 first-place Deputy candidates going into the second round. Of those 25 leading candidates, 17 come from departments where PHTK engaged in electoral abuses, according to the CEP’s communiqué. Similarly, 9 of Verité’s 14 Deputy candidates leading after the first round are from departments where the party caused disorder.

For PHTK’s Senate candidates, 4 out of 8 going to the second round come from departments where the party’s behaviour was criticized by the CEP. The same goes for a majority (7 of 11) of the second-round Senate candidates for the next two leading parties, Verité (4 of 7) and Bouclier (3 of 4).

In the absence of action taken to exclude the offenders, candidates from political parties issued warnings by the CEP will dominate the second round of the legislative elections in many departments. This is the case even when the 25 constituencies that the CEP has said will have their elections rerun are excluded from the analysis.

For the Artibonite, Nord, Centre, Ouest and Sud departments, 3 of 4 first-round Deputy winners and 34 of 47 first-place candidates heading to the second round come from parties cited by the CEP for causing disorder on election day. The outlook for the Senate races, where each department is electing two representatives, is much the same for these departments. In the Artibonite, Nord, Centre, Ouest and Sud, candidates from reprimanded parties hold the top two places (and are thus favourites going into the second round) for 8 of 10 Senate seats up for grabs, and make up 14 of 20 Senate candidates overall going to the second round. Only in the Artibonite, however, will the Senate race be redone.

The CEP, by issuing its warning, may have inadvertently demonstrated that the flaws of the August 9 elections go far beyond the 25 constituencies slated to be rerun. Whether the offending parties get more than just a slap on the wrist remains to be seen.

Major parties cited by CEP communiqué (department)

PHTK (Artibonite, Centre, Nord, Ouest, Nord-Ouest, Sud)

Bouclier (Artibonite, Grand’Anse, Nord, Ouest)

Verité (Nord, Ouest, Sud)

KID (Artibonite, Centre, Sud)

Candidates from parties responsible for election-day violence and disorder, selected departments

1st place Deputy

Artibonite: 3 of 6

Centre: 5 of 7

Nord: 7 of 8

Ouest: 9 of 14

Sud: 10 of 12

1st or 2nd place Senate (going to second round)

Artibonite: 2 of 2 (3 of 4)

Centre: 2 of 2 (3 of 4)

Nord: 2 of 2 (4 of 4)

Ouest: 1 of 2 (2 of 4)

Sud: 1 of 2 (2 of 4)

*This post has been edited for accuracy. 

After not showing up to its own scheduled press conference on Wednesday, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on Thursday that they would be re-running the first round legislative elections in 25 towns throughout the country. The CEP also announced participation rates at the national level and for each of the 10 departments during the press conference. However, no results were announced, instead, the CEP directed people to its website where results were supposed to be posted. The website was down until around 4 AM Friday morning when official results were finally made available.

Leaked results had been reported by Haitian radio and on social media throughout the day Thursday and ended up matching exactly those later released by the CEP. In a country where most get their news from the radio, the CEP’s posting of results online likely excluded many from obtaining them.

What follows is a breakdown of the results; which parties and candidates will be moving on to a second round, key figures of voter participation and irregularities and what information is still missing.

Participation

Reports from election day indicated extremely low voter participation throughout the country and that was backed up by the posted results. Still, many have raised questions about the numbers released, and there are significant questions that remain unanswered. According to the CEP, the national participation rate was 18 percent, with the lowest participation observed in the West department, at just under 10 percent. 

Participation Rates Haiti 2015

While the announced participation matches the results from the Deputy race, the number of votes counted is 50 percent higher for the Senate. This is to be expected, given that Haitians were choosing two senators from each department and could vote twice. None the less, it appears as though only about half actually chose to do so. 

The extremely low turnout in the West department is also noteworthy. It is Haiti’s largest department, with 41 percent of registered voters. It is also one of the areas most impacted by electoral violence and the closure of voting centers. This could play a bigger role in the presidential election; a public opinion survey released early this year noted that the West department was where president Martelly had the lowest approval ratings – more than 15 percent lower than in any other department. With low turnout and a messy electoral process in the first round, will potential voters stay away from the polls all together in October?

Did the CEP Set the Bar Too Low?

At its press conference on Thursday night, the CEP announced that the threshold for having the vote count and not be re-run in October was if 70 percent of tally sheets (PVs) were counted. Based on this figure, the CEP announced that 25 towns would have to re-run elections. The figure below provides those towns, and what percent of tally sheets were counted in each case.

Communes rerun 2015

One other town was below the 70 percent threshold, but was not on the list provided by the CEP of elections to be re-held: CERCA-CARVAJAL/QUARTIER DE LOS PALIS. In that area, the PHTK candidate will advance with 76.67 of the vote, though only 66.7 percent of tally sheets were counted. This could be because, according to the electoral law, the vote will only be annulled if the results were impacted; perhaps the CEP determined that the PHTK candidate would win no matter what, but if that is the case, they have not provided an explanation themselves.

The 70 percent threshold also applies to the Senate election, however only one department, the Artibonite, fell below that mark. The figures for all departments can be seen below.

PV counted 2015

Again, there are differences between the races for Senate and Deputy, but in both cases, the results reveal massive irregularities and disenfranchisement. Looking at the Senate numbers, at the national level, 24.3 percent of tally sheets were never counted; they never made it to the tabulation center to be counted, they were discarded due to fraud or they were discarded for technical reasons. The number is slightly lower for Deputy, but remains worryingly high at 22.7 percent. The CEP has posted all 13,725 tally sheets online, and a more complete breakdown of the reasons for such a low number being counted is forthcoming (though not, apparently, from the CEP).

As can be seen in the above figure, if the CEP’s 70 percent threshold had been raised to 80 percent, Senatorial elections would need to be re-run in six of Haiti’s ten departments. Only the Sud, Nord Ouest, Nord Est and Nippes department had more than 80 percent counted. Was the threshold determined by a statistical analysis? Or was it determined after the fact to ensure a minimum disruption to the electoral process? The CEP has yet to provide any further explanation.

This also comes into play in the election for Deputy; an additional 17 towns are below 80 percent of tally sheets being counted. Local observers and press reported significant problems on election day in a number of towns that fall just above the 70% threshold, for example Jeremie (71.9 percent). A more complete analysis on this point is available here. In only two towns throughout the country were 100 percent of tally sheets counted.

In the deeply flawed 2010 election, the number of tally sheets that were discarded due to irregularities or were never transported to the tabulation center was around 12 percent. The current election, where around twice as many votes were simply never counted, makes the 2010 election look good in comparison and that should be a concern for everyone involved.  The 2010 election was held the same year as a massive earthquake struck Haiti, displacing well over a million and killing hundreds of thousands. Additionally, a nationwide cholera outbreak hit the country just one month before the election. And yet, turnout was higher and there were fewer votes lost due to violence and irregularities.

Senate Results

For the Senatorial election, things are relatively straightforward. As mentioned previously, the Senate election in the Artibonite will be re-run. In the other nine departments, there were no winners in the first round, meaning that the top four finishers will advance to October’s run-off election. The breakdown by party can be seen below.

Senate second round 2015

The three parties that will advance the most candidates to the second round are PHTK, Verite and Bouclier (seen as very close to the government). But broken down by department, many of these parties have two candidates advancing in certain departments and in some cases those who finished in third or fourth place are far behind the leading candidates. Below is a breakdown of those parties advancing in the Senate elections, broken down by department and percent of the vote obtained.

Senate second round parties 2015

As can be seen, no Senate candidate received more than 28.08 percent of the vote in the first round, according to the results released by the CEP. PHTK leads the way with seven candidates finishing in the top two of the voting. Verite is next with three.

A full breakdown of Senate candidates advancing is available here.

Deputy Results

With 119 seats up for grabs and over 1,600 candidates running, the deputy results present a more confusing landscape. As mentioned previously, in 25 towns these elections will be re-held as part of the October 25 vote. In the 94 races that will stand (pending complaints registered by political parties), only nine of them saw a winner emerge in the first round. A new aspect to Haiti’s 2015 electoral law is that candidates no longer need to obtain more than 50 percent to win in the first round, candidates also advance if they have a 25 percent lead over their nearest competitor.

Deputy first winner

Again, it is PHTK that has the most candidates winning outright in the first round, with four. Only three candidates received more than 50 percent, with the remaining five candidates advancing because of the size of their lead over the second place finisher. In some cases, the difference was just a few votes. In Pestel, for example, Ronald Etienne (CONSORTIUM) advanced with a 25.21 percentage point lead. Yet in Pestel, only 70.7 percent of tally sheets were actually counted (more on this in the next section). In Mirebalais, Abel Descollines should advance because his next two closest competitors have been excluded due to their alleged role in electoral violence and he has a 25 percentage point lead over the next closest remaining candidate. *An additional name has been added since this was first posted; Nickel Pierre from the Nippes department. The second place candidate has been excluded for his alleged role in electoral violence, making Pierre a first round winner. 

The remaining Deputy races will all be headed to a run-off in October. The parties with candidates advancing can be seen in the chart below. These numbers differ slightly from what was released by the CEP, because the CEP has also excluded 16 candidates for their alleged role in electoral violence. Four of those individuals made it to the second round, but for this analysis were removed and replaced by the third place finisher. As mentioned previously, in one case the exclusions will likely allow the PHTK candidate in Mirebalais to win the election in the first round, despite having only received 38.7 percent of the vote. *An additional case has been found, see paragraph above. 

Deputy second round

A full breakdown, by location and with candidates’ names, is available here.

What Comes Next

With preliminary results released, but only online and with no larger analysis done by the CEP, it will take time for political parties to sift through all of the information and react. There is now a 72 hour period where candidates can contest the election results and it is expected that many will do so. According to the electoral calendar, final results will be released on September 8.

The CEP has also left the door open to excluding more candidates if information about their involvement in electoral violence is found. This means additional candidates on the lists here could still be excluded from participating in a second round.

The chaotic nature of election day and the lack of technical preparation from the CEP have led many to question its legitimacy and capability to continue the electoral process. The press conference on Thursday, where no questions were taken, no results were given, and little information was shared did not help this dynamic. Hopefully the many questions raised by the release of these results (and the manner in which they were released) will be addressed by the CEP in the coming days and weeks.  

*This post has been edited for accuracy. 

After not showing up to its own scheduled press conference on Wednesday, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on Thursday that they would be re-running the first round legislative elections in 25 towns throughout the country. The CEP also announced participation rates at the national level and for each of the 10 departments during the press conference. However, no results were announced, instead, the CEP directed people to its website where results were supposed to be posted. The website was down until around 4 AM Friday morning when official results were finally made available.

Leaked results had been reported by Haitian radio and on social media throughout the day Thursday and ended up matching exactly those later released by the CEP. In a country where most get their news from the radio, the CEP’s posting of results online likely excluded many from obtaining them.

What follows is a breakdown of the results; which parties and candidates will be moving on to a second round, key figures of voter participation and irregularities and what information is still missing.

Participation

Reports from election day indicated extremely low voter participation throughout the country and that was backed up by the posted results. Still, many have raised questions about the numbers released, and there are significant questions that remain unanswered. According to the CEP, the national participation rate was 18 percent, with the lowest participation observed in the West department, at just under 10 percent. 

Participation Rates Haiti 2015

While the announced participation matches the results from the Deputy race, the number of votes counted is 50 percent higher for the Senate. This is to be expected, given that Haitians were choosing two senators from each department and could vote twice. None the less, it appears as though only about half actually chose to do so. 

The extremely low turnout in the West department is also noteworthy. It is Haiti’s largest department, with 41 percent of registered voters. It is also one of the areas most impacted by electoral violence and the closure of voting centers. This could play a bigger role in the presidential election; a public opinion survey released early this year noted that the West department was where president Martelly had the lowest approval ratings – more than 15 percent lower than in any other department. With low turnout and a messy electoral process in the first round, will potential voters stay away from the polls all together in October?

Did the CEP Set the Bar Too Low?

At its press conference on Thursday night, the CEP announced that the threshold for having the vote count and not be re-run in October was if 70 percent of tally sheets (PVs) were counted. Based on this figure, the CEP announced that 25 towns would have to re-run elections. The figure below provides those towns, and what percent of tally sheets were counted in each case.

Communes rerun 2015

One other town was below the 70 percent threshold, but was not on the list provided by the CEP of elections to be re-held: CERCA-CARVAJAL/QUARTIER DE LOS PALIS. In that area, the PHTK candidate will advance with 76.67 of the vote, though only 66.7 percent of tally sheets were counted. This could be because, according to the electoral law, the vote will only be annulled if the results were impacted; perhaps the CEP determined that the PHTK candidate would win no matter what, but if that is the case, they have not provided an explanation themselves.

The 70 percent threshold also applies to the Senate election, however only one department, the Artibonite, fell below that mark. The figures for all departments can be seen below.

PV counted 2015

Again, there are differences between the races for Senate and Deputy, but in both cases, the results reveal massive irregularities and disenfranchisement. Looking at the Senate numbers, at the national level, 24.3 percent of tally sheets were never counted; they never made it to the tabulation center to be counted, they were discarded due to fraud or they were discarded for technical reasons. The number is slightly lower for Deputy, but remains worryingly high at 22.7 percent. The CEP has posted all 13,725 tally sheets online, and a more complete breakdown of the reasons for such a low number being counted is forthcoming (though not, apparently, from the CEP).

As can be seen in the above figure, if the CEP’s 70 percent threshold had been raised to 80 percent, Senatorial elections would need to be re-run in six of Haiti’s ten departments. Only the Sud, Nord Ouest, Nord Est and Nippes department had more than 80 percent counted. Was the threshold determined by a statistical analysis? Or was it determined after the fact to ensure a minimum disruption to the electoral process? The CEP has yet to provide any further explanation.

This also comes into play in the election for Deputy; an additional 17 towns are below 80 percent of tally sheets being counted. Local observers and press reported significant problems on election day in a number of towns that fall just above the 70% threshold, for example Jeremie (71.9 percent). A more complete analysis on this point is available here. In only two towns throughout the country were 100 percent of tally sheets counted.

In the deeply flawed 2010 election, the number of tally sheets that were discarded due to irregularities or were never transported to the tabulation center was around 12 percent. The current election, where around twice as many votes were simply never counted, makes the 2010 election look good in comparison and that should be a concern for everyone involved.  The 2010 election was held the same year as a massive earthquake struck Haiti, displacing well over a million and killing hundreds of thousands. Additionally, a nationwide cholera outbreak hit the country just one month before the election. And yet, turnout was higher and there were fewer votes lost due to violence and irregularities.

Senate Results

For the Senatorial election, things are relatively straightforward. As mentioned previously, the Senate election in the Artibonite will be re-run. In the other nine departments, there were no winners in the first round, meaning that the top four finishers will advance to October’s run-off election. The breakdown by party can be seen below.

Senate second round 2015

The three parties that will advance the most candidates to the second round are PHTK, Verite and Bouclier (seen as very close to the government). But broken down by department, many of these parties have two candidates advancing in certain departments and in some cases those who finished in third or fourth place are far behind the leading candidates. Below is a breakdown of those parties advancing in the Senate elections, broken down by department and percent of the vote obtained.

Senate second round parties 2015

As can be seen, no Senate candidate received more than 28.08 percent of the vote in the first round, according to the results released by the CEP. PHTK leads the way with seven candidates finishing in the top two of the voting. Verite is next with three.

A full breakdown of Senate candidates advancing is available here.

Deputy Results

With 119 seats up for grabs and over 1,600 candidates running, the deputy results present a more confusing landscape. As mentioned previously, in 25 towns these elections will be re-held as part of the October 25 vote. In the 94 races that will stand (pending complaints registered by political parties), only nine of them saw a winner emerge in the first round. A new aspect to Haiti’s 2015 electoral law is that candidates no longer need to obtain more than 50 percent to win in the first round, candidates also advance if they have a 25 percent lead over their nearest competitor.

Deputy first winner

Again, it is PHTK that has the most candidates winning outright in the first round, with four. Only three candidates received more than 50 percent, with the remaining five candidates advancing because of the size of their lead over the second place finisher. In some cases, the difference was just a few votes. In Pestel, for example, Ronald Etienne (CONSORTIUM) advanced with a 25.21 percentage point lead. Yet in Pestel, only 70.7 percent of tally sheets were actually counted (more on this in the next section). In Mirebalais, Abel Descollines should advance because his next two closest competitors have been excluded due to their alleged role in electoral violence and he has a 25 percentage point lead over the next closest remaining candidate. *An additional name has been added since this was first posted; Nickel Pierre from the Nippes department. The second place candidate has been excluded for his alleged role in electoral violence, making Pierre a first round winner. 

The remaining Deputy races will all be headed to a run-off in October. The parties with candidates advancing can be seen in the chart below. These numbers differ slightly from what was released by the CEP, because the CEP has also excluded 16 candidates for their alleged role in electoral violence. Four of those individuals made it to the second round, but for this analysis were removed and replaced by the third place finisher. As mentioned previously, in one case the exclusions will likely allow the PHTK candidate in Mirebalais to win the election in the first round, despite having only received 38.7 percent of the vote. *An additional case has been found, see paragraph above. 

Deputy second round

A full breakdown, by location and with candidates’ names, is available here.

What Comes Next

With preliminary results released, but only online and with no larger analysis done by the CEP, it will take time for political parties to sift through all of the information and react. There is now a 72 hour period where candidates can contest the election results and it is expected that many will do so. According to the electoral calendar, final results will be released on September 8.

The CEP has also left the door open to excluding more candidates if information about their involvement in electoral violence is found. This means additional candidates on the lists here could still be excluded from participating in a second round.

The chaotic nature of election day and the lack of technical preparation from the CEP have led many to question its legitimacy and capability to continue the electoral process. The press conference on Thursday, where no questions were taken, no results were given, and little information was shared did not help this dynamic. Hopefully the many questions raised by the release of these results (and the manner in which they were released) will be addressed by the CEP in the coming days and weeks.  

On Sunday, August 9, Haitians went to the polls in long-overdue elections to elect the entire 119-member Chamber of Deputies and 20 out of 30 seats in the Senate. 1,621 candidates competed for the lower house, while 232 fought for the Senate. In Haiti’s capital, where I witnessed events on election day, the process was marred by a late start, problems with voter lists, and violence and intimidation, which closed a number of polling centers throughout the day. But just hours after the voting closed on Sunday, Haiti’s provisional electoral council (CEP) held a press conference, stating that things had gone well and that only 4 percent of voting centers had been closed — not enough to impact results.

International observer groups, foreign embassies and the U.N. quickly followed suit, putting their stamp of approval on the process. The Organization of American States (OAS), while acknowledging incidents of violence, proclaimed that these “did not affect the overall voting process.” The U.N. and the Core Group (which consists of the governments of the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Spain, France and the European Union) welcomed the holding of elections, and cited the efforts of the Haitian government in “assuring a conducive framework for these elections.” A day later, the EU observation mission, while more critical overall, hailed the elections as “an essential step towards a more robust democracy.”

But these statements of support contrasted greatly with reports in the local press as well as from a local observation team led by a grouping of human rights organizations (RNDDH). The RNDDH-led team, which had over 15 times as many observers as the OAS and EU missions, denounced the process as an assault on democracy and cited fraud, irregularities and violence in 50 percent of voting centers across the country. The group warned the turnout could be “the lowest ever recorded since the 1987 elections,” and cited massive amounts of fraud with political party observers.

Most political parties have denounced an election they see as unfair and controlled by the ruling party (PHTK) and those close to government. A broad spectrum of parties has called for a commission to analyze the results and propose a solution to move forward. Vérité, a new party associated with former president René Préval, issued a statement yesterday highlighting numerous problems with the election, but expressing a desire to see the process continue to avoid an unelected transitional government. PHTK, in a press conference the day after the election, denounced a “smear campaign” against them while stating that the elections were acceptable to move forward.

While not advocating for an annulment of the elections, the RNDDH-led observer group cautioned that the problems on election day were serious enough to question the incoming legislature’s legitimacy. The group urged “all actors involved at every level in the electoral process to avoid trivializing the facts recorded during this election.” They warned, “Be wary of anyone saying that everything went well.”

In the meantime, a cautious calm has come over Port-au-Prince as parties, candidates and observers eagerly await the announcement of preliminary results from the CEP, expected later today. Will elections have to be re-held in certain areas? Will turnout be as low as expected? Will the CEP admit to the full extent of the problem?

“Nobody knows what will happen next, the results will be the indicator,” one of the 10 remaining senators, Jocelerme Privert, said in an interview last week in Haiti. “The credibility of the process and the honesty of the CEP will be tested,” Privert added.

On Sunday, August 9, Haitians went to the polls in long-overdue elections to elect the entire 119-member Chamber of Deputies and 20 out of 30 seats in the Senate. 1,621 candidates competed for the lower house, while 232 fought for the Senate. In Haiti’s capital, where I witnessed events on election day, the process was marred by a late start, problems with voter lists, and violence and intimidation, which closed a number of polling centers throughout the day. But just hours after the voting closed on Sunday, Haiti’s provisional electoral council (CEP) held a press conference, stating that things had gone well and that only 4 percent of voting centers had been closed — not enough to impact results.

International observer groups, foreign embassies and the U.N. quickly followed suit, putting their stamp of approval on the process. The Organization of American States (OAS), while acknowledging incidents of violence, proclaimed that these “did not affect the overall voting process.” The U.N. and the Core Group (which consists of the governments of the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Spain, France and the European Union) welcomed the holding of elections, and cited the efforts of the Haitian government in “assuring a conducive framework for these elections.” A day later, the EU observation mission, while more critical overall, hailed the elections as “an essential step towards a more robust democracy.”

But these statements of support contrasted greatly with reports in the local press as well as from a local observation team led by a grouping of human rights organizations (RNDDH). The RNDDH-led team, which had over 15 times as many observers as the OAS and EU missions, denounced the process as an assault on democracy and cited fraud, irregularities and violence in 50 percent of voting centers across the country. The group warned the turnout could be “the lowest ever recorded since the 1987 elections,” and cited massive amounts of fraud with political party observers.

Most political parties have denounced an election they see as unfair and controlled by the ruling party (PHTK) and those close to government. A broad spectrum of parties has called for a commission to analyze the results and propose a solution to move forward. Vérité, a new party associated with former president René Préval, issued a statement yesterday highlighting numerous problems with the election, but expressing a desire to see the process continue to avoid an unelected transitional government. PHTK, in a press conference the day after the election, denounced a “smear campaign” against them while stating that the elections were acceptable to move forward.

While not advocating for an annulment of the elections, the RNDDH-led observer group cautioned that the problems on election day were serious enough to question the incoming legislature’s legitimacy. The group urged “all actors involved at every level in the electoral process to avoid trivializing the facts recorded during this election.” They warned, “Be wary of anyone saying that everything went well.”

In the meantime, a cautious calm has come over Port-au-Prince as parties, candidates and observers eagerly await the announcement of preliminary results from the CEP, expected later today. Will elections have to be re-held in certain areas? Will turnout be as low as expected? Will the CEP admit to the full extent of the problem?

“Nobody knows what will happen next, the results will be the indicator,” one of the 10 remaining senators, Jocelerme Privert, said in an interview last week in Haiti. “The credibility of the process and the honesty of the CEP will be tested,” Privert added.

In July, I reported for Al Jazeera America on USAID’s support for a group in Haiti, Mouvement Tet Kale (MTK), which had strong ties to President Martelly and his political party, Parti Haitiene Tét Kale. USAID supplied hand tools to the group (to clean the streets as part of a “civic engagement” program) in the lead up to Martelly’s presidential inauguration in May 2011. In an e-mailed statement, USAID stated that “Mouvement Tet Kale is not the same thing as the Tet Kale party, which came into being in 2012–a year after the inauguration and the grant.” Rather, USAID described MTK as a “social network of community-based organizations.”

But a contract document, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, clearly shows that from the beginning USAID was aware of the group’s political ties. The project document released by USAID contains an activity summary that also describes MTK as a “social network of community-based organizations”; however, the sentence continues: “founded by Michel Martelly campaign members.” That is a pretty significant omission.

USAID Contract CHE316

To read the original Al Jazeera America piece, click here.

In July, I reported for Al Jazeera America on USAID’s support for a group in Haiti, Mouvement Tet Kale (MTK), which had strong ties to President Martelly and his political party, Parti Haitiene Tét Kale. USAID supplied hand tools to the group (to clean the streets as part of a “civic engagement” program) in the lead up to Martelly’s presidential inauguration in May 2011. In an e-mailed statement, USAID stated that “Mouvement Tet Kale is not the same thing as the Tet Kale party, which came into being in 2012–a year after the inauguration and the grant.” Rather, USAID described MTK as a “social network of community-based organizations.”

But a contract document, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, clearly shows that from the beginning USAID was aware of the group’s political ties. The project document released by USAID contains an activity summary that also describes MTK as a “social network of community-based organizations”; however, the sentence continues: “founded by Michel Martelly campaign members.” That is a pretty significant omission.

USAID Contract CHE316

To read the original Al Jazeera America piece, click here.

Long-overdue legislative elections will be held in Haiti this Sunday, August 9, the first of three elections scheduled for 2015 (the others scheduled for October 25 and December 27).  This year, Haitians will vote for 20 members of the Senate, for 118 members of the Chamber of Deputies, and for a new president.

The elections are scheduled to take place amidst a climate of low voter interest, extremely low female participation among the candidates, and a record-high number of 128 political parties and groupings registered to participate. The elections will also take place in a context of worrying election-related violence.

HRRW lead blogger and CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston is in Haiti to track what happens, and will be providing updates, along with colleagues from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Let Haiti Live, and others at the “Haiti Elections” blog here throughout the weekend.

Long-overdue legislative elections will be held in Haiti this Sunday, August 9, the first of three elections scheduled for 2015 (the others scheduled for October 25 and December 27).  This year, Haitians will vote for 20 members of the Senate, for 118 members of the Chamber of Deputies, and for a new president.

The elections are scheduled to take place amidst a climate of low voter interest, extremely low female participation among the candidates, and a record-high number of 128 political parties and groupings registered to participate. The elections will also take place in a context of worrying election-related violence.

HRRW lead blogger and CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston is in Haiti to track what happens, and will be providing updates, along with colleagues from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Let Haiti Live, and others at the “Haiti Elections” blog here throughout the weekend.

On July 14, 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a statement regarding the situation on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. The IOM interviewed some 1,133 individuals who had crossed the border between June 16 and July 3, finding that “408 persons (or 36.0 per cent) said that they had been deported by different entities, including the military, police, immigration officials and civilians.”  These findings directly contradicted statements from the Dominican Republic and U.S. officials that no deportations had occurred.

However, within two days the press release was pulled from the IOM website and on July 21, IOM issued a new press release making no mention of deportations.

U.S. Special Coordinator for Haiti Thomas Adams, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 15, 2015, stated, “They — they [the Dominican Republic] have assured us that there will be no mass deportations and none have begun yet.” He added: “There were reports of others that when they investigated, they found out that they weren’t — they weren’t really deportees.” A day later the IOM press release had been pulled from the website.

When contacted by HRRW last week, Ilaria Lanzoni, a press officer with the IOM, e-mailed that “They [IOM Headquarters] are currently revising the note.” When the release was re-posted, however, all mentions of deportations were removed. The original release contained a quote from Gregoire Goodstein, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Haiti, stating: “A proper monitoring system is essential to overcome the current uncertainty about the conditions and number of deportations …” However in the updated release, Goodstein’s quote has been changed to “… the current uncertainty about returns.” The rest of the changes can be seen in the screen grabs, below.

IOM PR Deportations Change

Edited Paragraphs of IOM press release with changes highlighted (original on right). Click to enlarge.

In response to an HRRW inquiry, IOM released the following statement on the changes:

Accuracy is extremely important to us and the note was revised to reflect the absence, thus far, of formal deportation orders from the Dominican Government. The more accurate description – forced expulsions – was substituted to characterize what’s being reported from the borders. IOM is working, together with the Haitian and Dominican governments, UN agencies and civil society, to collect and systematize available data, and hopes soon to deploy monitoring teams along the entire border.

But the term “forced expulsion” does not actually appear in the IOM release. Instead, references to deportations were replaced with the much more neutral phrasing of “returns.”

HRRW also asked at whose instruction the changes were made. “We edit our external communications for accuracy on an ongoing basis and this is such a case,” press officer Ilaria Lanzoni responded. Much of the IOM’s work in Haiti is currently being funded by the United States, which has disbursed nearly $2 million to the organization since early 2015, including $642,792 earlier this month, according to the USASpending.gov website.

While any mention of “deportations” was removed from the release, the underlying numbers have not been changed at all. What they show is that a significant percent of those who have left the Dominican Republic report having been deported. At least 36 percent of those interviewed said they had been deported, over 33 percent of those who crossed the border said they were born in the Dominican Republic, and around 8 percent had registered with the PNRE (National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners). In both of those cases, individuals should be able to become regularized Dominican citizens.  Whether the IOM removes the word from their press release or not, the data show the same thing: Dominicans of Haitian descent are being deported to Haiti.

On July 14, 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a statement regarding the situation on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. The IOM interviewed some 1,133 individuals who had crossed the border between June 16 and July 3, finding that “408 persons (or 36.0 per cent) said that they had been deported by different entities, including the military, police, immigration officials and civilians.”  These findings directly contradicted statements from the Dominican Republic and U.S. officials that no deportations had occurred.

However, within two days the press release was pulled from the IOM website and on July 21, IOM issued a new press release making no mention of deportations.

U.S. Special Coordinator for Haiti Thomas Adams, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 15, 2015, stated, “They — they [the Dominican Republic] have assured us that there will be no mass deportations and none have begun yet.” He added: “There were reports of others that when they investigated, they found out that they weren’t — they weren’t really deportees.” A day later the IOM press release had been pulled from the website.

When contacted by HRRW last week, Ilaria Lanzoni, a press officer with the IOM, e-mailed that “They [IOM Headquarters] are currently revising the note.” When the release was re-posted, however, all mentions of deportations were removed. The original release contained a quote from Gregoire Goodstein, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Haiti, stating: “A proper monitoring system is essential to overcome the current uncertainty about the conditions and number of deportations …” However in the updated release, Goodstein’s quote has been changed to “… the current uncertainty about returns.” The rest of the changes can be seen in the screen grabs, below.

IOM PR Deportations Change

Edited Paragraphs of IOM press release with changes highlighted (original on right). Click to enlarge.

In response to an HRRW inquiry, IOM released the following statement on the changes:

Accuracy is extremely important to us and the note was revised to reflect the absence, thus far, of formal deportation orders from the Dominican Government. The more accurate description – forced expulsions – was substituted to characterize what’s being reported from the borders. IOM is working, together with the Haitian and Dominican governments, UN agencies and civil society, to collect and systematize available data, and hopes soon to deploy monitoring teams along the entire border.

But the term “forced expulsion” does not actually appear in the IOM release. Instead, references to deportations were replaced with the much more neutral phrasing of “returns.”

HRRW also asked at whose instruction the changes were made. “We edit our external communications for accuracy on an ongoing basis and this is such a case,” press officer Ilaria Lanzoni responded. Much of the IOM’s work in Haiti is currently being funded by the United States, which has disbursed nearly $2 million to the organization since early 2015, including $642,792 earlier this month, according to the USASpending.gov website.

While any mention of “deportations” was removed from the release, the underlying numbers have not been changed at all. What they show is that a significant percent of those who have left the Dominican Republic report having been deported. At least 36 percent of those interviewed said they had been deported, over 33 percent of those who crossed the border said they were born in the Dominican Republic, and around 8 percent had registered with the PNRE (National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners). In both of those cases, individuals should be able to become regularized Dominican citizens.  Whether the IOM removes the word from their press release or not, the data show the same thing: Dominicans of Haitian descent are being deported to Haiti.

After launching the electoral campaign of his political party, Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), in Cap-Haitien last week, Martelly has renewed his 2011 campaign pledge to restore the Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd’H), reports Le Nouvelliste. In a rally held in the Palmes region in the Southeast department over the weekend, Martelly stated that his previous pledge was not false. He added that since his mandate began, “I have been around the world to meet with representatives of major countries on the issue.”

In February 2014, Martelly formally requested technical advice on the creation of a military from the Washington D.C.-based Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), a body of the Organization of American States.  Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide disbanded the military in 1995 as the force was involved in numerous human rights violations and coup d’etats. Nevertheless, on June 25, 2015, the IADB met with Haitian authorities in Port-au-Prince to officially present a “white paper” outlining the formation of a new defense force. The process has been led by Haitian Minister of Defense Renauld Lener, himself a former major in the FAd’H.

The Director General of the IADB, Vice Admiral Bento Costa Lima Leite de Albuquerque Junior, in announcing the finalization of the “white paper” told the audience:

The principle innovation of the Haitian White Paper, with respect to others, is that it covers the global interests of security, without limiting exclusively to questions of defense. It defines the strategic guidelines of security and national defense that give answers to “all the risks and threats that could make the life of the nation vulnerable” and the interweaving with the economic development and social sustainability of the country. The field of national security includes defense policies, but doesn’t limit itself to it. Other policies, like the exterior policies and the economic policies, also contribute directly to national security.

Therefore, we understand that the Haitian White Paper of also [sic] defines a concrete space of international cooperation in the future, to the extent that the document ordered, systematized and establishes axes and sets areas of priorities for the country.

When Martelly first came to office pledging to restore the Haitian military, the plan was met with fierce resistance, both within and outside of Haiti, with key donor governments including the U.S. opposed to the idea. Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch told the Associated Press in 2011: “The Haitian army has basically been an army that’s been used against the Haitian people … It was there as an instrument of repression, so it’s hard to see what Haiti gains by bringing back the army.”

A document leaked to the AP in 2011 pointed to internal security as a key aspect of the newly planned force, stating, “The fragility of the Haitian state now makes it vulnerable to the risks of internal unrest that could plunge the country into anarchy.” The “white paper” presented last month has not been made public.

But whereas Martelly’s initial pledge to restore the military was met with resistance from the international community, this latest move appears to have the backing of key regional and international organizations. The IADB Director General thanked both member countries of the Organization of American States and the United Nations for their assistance in the development of the “white paper.” This latest push coincides with the planned drawdown of U.N. troops in Haiti, and indeed Martelly hinted that the new force would be able to replace the U.N. troops, in his speech this weekend.

Martelly appears committed to pushing this newly constituted force through before his term expires in early 2016. In his speech, he said, “Recruitment for the remobilization of the Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd’H) will start beginning in October,” adding that recruitment will focus on the youth of the country. This echoes his comments from the campaign trail in 2011 when he told the Toronto Star that he envisioned an army that would “create employment” and “integrate youth.”

With elections four-years delayed, Martelly currently is able to rule by decree, preventing legislative oversight of the process guiding the reconstitution of the army. Under pressure from the international community, Martelly has limited his decree power to scheduling elections. Top State Department officials in Washington, however, have indicated that Martelly has a strong desire not to be a “lame duck” during his last months in office.  Will reconstituting the FAd’H be Martelly’s final act as president?

After launching the electoral campaign of his political party, Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), in Cap-Haitien last week, Martelly has renewed his 2011 campaign pledge to restore the Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd’H), reports Le Nouvelliste. In a rally held in the Palmes region in the Southeast department over the weekend, Martelly stated that his previous pledge was not false. He added that since his mandate began, “I have been around the world to meet with representatives of major countries on the issue.”

In February 2014, Martelly formally requested technical advice on the creation of a military from the Washington D.C.-based Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), a body of the Organization of American States.  Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide disbanded the military in 1995 as the force was involved in numerous human rights violations and coup d’etats. Nevertheless, on June 25, 2015, the IADB met with Haitian authorities in Port-au-Prince to officially present a “white paper” outlining the formation of a new defense force. The process has been led by Haitian Minister of Defense Renauld Lener, himself a former major in the FAd’H.

The Director General of the IADB, Vice Admiral Bento Costa Lima Leite de Albuquerque Junior, in announcing the finalization of the “white paper” told the audience:

The principle innovation of the Haitian White Paper, with respect to others, is that it covers the global interests of security, without limiting exclusively to questions of defense. It defines the strategic guidelines of security and national defense that give answers to “all the risks and threats that could make the life of the nation vulnerable” and the interweaving with the economic development and social sustainability of the country. The field of national security includes defense policies, but doesn’t limit itself to it. Other policies, like the exterior policies and the economic policies, also contribute directly to national security.

Therefore, we understand that the Haitian White Paper of also [sic] defines a concrete space of international cooperation in the future, to the extent that the document ordered, systematized and establishes axes and sets areas of priorities for the country.

When Martelly first came to office pledging to restore the Haitian military, the plan was met with fierce resistance, both within and outside of Haiti, with key donor governments including the U.S. opposed to the idea. Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch told the Associated Press in 2011: “The Haitian army has basically been an army that’s been used against the Haitian people … It was there as an instrument of repression, so it’s hard to see what Haiti gains by bringing back the army.”

A document leaked to the AP in 2011 pointed to internal security as a key aspect of the newly planned force, stating, “The fragility of the Haitian state now makes it vulnerable to the risks of internal unrest that could plunge the country into anarchy.” The “white paper” presented last month has not been made public.

But whereas Martelly’s initial pledge to restore the military was met with resistance from the international community, this latest move appears to have the backing of key regional and international organizations. The IADB Director General thanked both member countries of the Organization of American States and the United Nations for their assistance in the development of the “white paper.” This latest push coincides with the planned drawdown of U.N. troops in Haiti, and indeed Martelly hinted that the new force would be able to replace the U.N. troops, in his speech this weekend.

Martelly appears committed to pushing this newly constituted force through before his term expires in early 2016. In his speech, he said, “Recruitment for the remobilization of the Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd’H) will start beginning in October,” adding that recruitment will focus on the youth of the country. This echoes his comments from the campaign trail in 2011 when he told the Toronto Star that he envisioned an army that would “create employment” and “integrate youth.”

With elections four-years delayed, Martelly currently is able to rule by decree, preventing legislative oversight of the process guiding the reconstitution of the army. Under pressure from the international community, Martelly has limited his decree power to scheduling elections. Top State Department officials in Washington, however, have indicated that Martelly has a strong desire not to be a “lame duck” during his last months in office.  Will reconstituting the FAd’H be Martelly’s final act as president?

CEPR Research Associate, Jake Johnston, reports in Al Jazeera America on US government funding to Mouvement Tét Kale, a political organization with close ties to President Michel Martelly, during the 2010-11 elections: 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The U.S. Agency for International Development gave nearly $100,000 to a Haitian political movement with close ties to President Michel Martelly in the country’s 2010 elections, documents obtained by Al Jazeera show. The money was allocated shortly after Washington helped overturn the election results to thrust Martelly into power.

On the afternoon of Haiti’s Nov. 28, 2010, elections, 12 of 18 presidential candidates took the stage at the glamorous Karibe Hotel, high up in the mountains that surround the capital. The elections were a fraudulent mess, they told the gathered press, and the only way out was to cancel the poll and start over. Chaos soon engulfed Port-au-Prince and other cities, as thousands of young Haitians, many clad in the pink synonymous with Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, took to the streets to simultaneously denounce electoral fraud and herald the victory of their candidate, many days before any official results would be announced.

In the midst of the mayhem, key international actors mobilized. At an emergency meeting at the home of the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, Edmond Mulet, leading diplomats pushed then-President René Préval to accept their offer of a plane to take him out of the country and avoid further confrontation. Mulet also approached the front-runners, including Martelly, telling them they had secured a spot in the second round and to cease calls for the election’s cancellation. Days later, when the electoral council announced preliminary results that did not have Martelly advancing to the runoff, the streets were once again taken over by largely pro-Martelly protesters. The U.S. Embassy released a statement questioning the announced results, fueling the demonstrations in Port-au-Prince.

The pressure of these pro-Martelly demonstrators — on the day of the elections and during the following weeks — was a key factor in convincing the U.S. and other international actors to intervene in Haiti’s elections and force the electoral authority to change the results of the first round, so as to ensure that Martelly remained on the ballot.

According to numerous firsthand accounts, Mouvement Tét Kale (MTK), a political organization with close ties to Martelly, was active in these street mobilizations. Now documents through Freedom of Information Act requests reveal that the U.S. government later provided nearly $100,000 in support to MTK, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

To read the complete article, click here. The document showing the support to Mouvement Tét Kale from the for-profit contractor Chemonics has also been posted online and is available here

CEPR Research Associate, Jake Johnston, reports in Al Jazeera America on US government funding to Mouvement Tét Kale, a political organization with close ties to President Michel Martelly, during the 2010-11 elections: 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The U.S. Agency for International Development gave nearly $100,000 to a Haitian political movement with close ties to President Michel Martelly in the country’s 2010 elections, documents obtained by Al Jazeera show. The money was allocated shortly after Washington helped overturn the election results to thrust Martelly into power.

On the afternoon of Haiti’s Nov. 28, 2010, elections, 12 of 18 presidential candidates took the stage at the glamorous Karibe Hotel, high up in the mountains that surround the capital. The elections were a fraudulent mess, they told the gathered press, and the only way out was to cancel the poll and start over. Chaos soon engulfed Port-au-Prince and other cities, as thousands of young Haitians, many clad in the pink synonymous with Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, took to the streets to simultaneously denounce electoral fraud and herald the victory of their candidate, many days before any official results would be announced.

In the midst of the mayhem, key international actors mobilized. At an emergency meeting at the home of the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, Edmond Mulet, leading diplomats pushed then-President René Préval to accept their offer of a plane to take him out of the country and avoid further confrontation. Mulet also approached the front-runners, including Martelly, telling them they had secured a spot in the second round and to cease calls for the election’s cancellation. Days later, when the electoral council announced preliminary results that did not have Martelly advancing to the runoff, the streets were once again taken over by largely pro-Martelly protesters. The U.S. Embassy released a statement questioning the announced results, fueling the demonstrations in Port-au-Prince.

The pressure of these pro-Martelly demonstrators — on the day of the elections and during the following weeks — was a key factor in convincing the U.S. and other international actors to intervene in Haiti’s elections and force the electoral authority to change the results of the first round, so as to ensure that Martelly remained on the ballot.

According to numerous firsthand accounts, Mouvement Tét Kale (MTK), a political organization with close ties to Martelly, was active in these street mobilizations. Now documents through Freedom of Information Act requests reveal that the U.S. government later provided nearly $100,000 in support to MTK, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

To read the complete article, click here. The document showing the support to Mouvement Tét Kale from the for-profit contractor Chemonics has also been posted online and is available here

Want to search in the archives?

¿Quieres buscar en los archivos?

Click Here Haga clic aquí