Huffpost WorldPost
Georgianne Nienaber Headshot

New Election Questions in Haiti Result in Violence

Posted: Updated:

Haiti's newly elected president, Michel Martelly, has requested that the international community "not recognize the results of legislative elections." In a press release issued late Friday night, Martelly charges that vote tabulations for senators and deputies who were leading in the polls were excluded in favor of candidates representing the ruling party, INITE.

2011-04-23-story_family.jpg

Counting on Martelly for help

According to HaitiLibre, the final results of legislative elections released Wednesday night by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) awarded twelve additional seats to INITE. "The governing party now holds 46 seats out of 99 in the Chamber of Deputies and 17 Senate seats." The end result is that INITE could be in a position to impose a Prime Minister, effectively limiting Martelly's ability to govern.

In a rare and quick move, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti issued a strong response in support of Martelly's accusations and concerns.

The United States shares the concern referenced by the Organization of American States (OAS)/CARICOM Joint Electoral Observation Mission (JEOM) regarding the reports and allegations of fraud surrounding the final results announced by the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP) for the March 20 second-round legislative elections as a result of the contestation process.


After reviewing the results and materials provided by the CEP, United Nations, and international observers, the embassy "found no explanation for the reversals of 18 legislative races in the final results, which in all except two cases benefited the incumbent party."

A candidate from the incumbent party (INITE) who placed third in the preliminary results inexplicably finished first according to the CEP's final results. Total votes counted in the race increased by 55,000 votes, from 90,000 in the preliminary results to more than 145,000 votes in the final results.

The U.S. Embassy has provided a spreadsheet which spells out voting shifts and irregularities.

Martelly has called for calm in the wake of isolated reports of violence in the Central Plateau. Protestors burned an administrative complex run by Zanmi La Sante (Partners in Health ) in the city of Belladere, located on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

A staff member, Phyzeme Isly, a 44-year-old lab technician who had worked for the charity for nine years, was killed.

"It's certainly related to the political situation, the election results," said Louise Ivers, senior health and policy adviser for Partners in Health, a charity founded by a public health doctor, Paul Farmer, in Haiti's Central Plateau.

A nurse and her two children were burned in the attack, and evacuated to the neighboring Dominican Republic for treatment. The violence prompted more than two dozen Partners in Health employees to evacuate, interrupting medical services at the only hospital in Belladere.

The intervention of the U.S. Embassy is to be expected, since the State Department has put considerable influence and muscle behind Martelly. In a joint appearance on Wednesday in Washington with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Martelly noted that the Haitian population had become "desperate" and that the delivery of promised foreign aid was paramount.

Now, it is up to me to transform my campaign promises into an action plan. Clearly, I have huge challenges in front of me, but I intend to meet them. In spite of the generous donations of the American citizens, which have reached $1.2 billion received by 53 NGOs, and in spite of the donation by the Government of the United States of $1.5 billion, we still have 1.7 million people who still live under tents after 15 long months of waiting. The cholera epidemic, if it is not contained and if Haitians are not vaccinated, this epidemic threatens to extend itself to the entire country during the upcoming rainy and hurricane season. In addition, starting on June 1, the country will have to confront up to 16 hurricanes scheduled anticipated next summer. The reconstruction process is despairingly slow.

Clinton stood, literally, shoulder-to shoulder with the president-elect, promising unflinching support from the United States. "The people of Haiti may have a long road ahead of them, but as they walk it, the United States will be with you all the way," Clinton said.

What form this support will take, given recent election shenanigans remains to be seen.

In a personal statement from his press office last night, Martelly said, "The Haitian people voted for change and its vote must be inevitably respected."

UPDATE:
NOTE: At 6:56 PM EST Saturday, the Department of State issued a correction to their original statement, but kept the same URL which is resulting in some confusion.

After reviewing the results and materials provided by the CEP, United Nations, and international observers, we have found no explanation for the reversals of 18 legislative races in the final results, which in all except two cases benefited the incumbent party. These reversals include, among other changes, a candidate from the Lavni party who placed second in the preliminary announced results that the CEP's final results now place first, with total votes cast in the race increasing bymore than 33,000 votes casts from 111,575 votes in the preliminary results to more 145,000 votes; and, two candidates from the incumbent party who placed second in the preliminary announced results, and for whom their CEP's final results double their preliminary vote total, one of whose new vote total exceeds the total number of votes cast in his district for all candidates....

Our story, based on the now-excised DOS statement, was based on their original figures.

A candidate from the incumbent party (INITE) who placed third in the preliminary results inexplicably finished first according to the CEP's final results. Total votes counted in the race increased by 55,000 votes, from 90,000 in the preliminary results to more than 145,000 votes in the final results.