Haiti Presidential Election Saga Continues as Officials Decide to Scrap Votes

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Interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert (via ndtv.com)
Interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert (via ndtv.com)

Haiti’s decision to rerun its disputed first-round presidential vote continued to ripple through the international community Wednesday as the European Union and the United States criticized the move, and the Organization of American States announced its continued support for the process.

All three donors had contributed to last year’s $100 million elections price tag and had praised the Oct. 25 presidential vote that pitted government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse against Jude Célestin of the opposition.

“Despite a certain number of flaws and irregularities that were observed, they were not however of the nature to alter the results,” the EU’s Electoral Observer Mission said as it announced the closure of the mission while attacking the findings of the special verification commission.

The commission audited 25 percent of the roughly 13,000 tally sheets from polling stations, and found among problems, that there were 628,000 untraceable or “Zombie” votes.

The U.S. State Department said Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council’s decision to rerun the presidential vote means “that the electoral process is extended yet again with the president-elect unlikely to be installed before Feb. 7, 2017.”

“The Haitian people deserved to have their voices heard, not deferred,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, noting that the U.S. “regrets” the extension.

With $8 million left in a United Nations elections fund, it’s unclear how the EU and U.S.’s reactions will impact elections funding. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro called on Haitians “to commit to the electoral calendar.”

“The OAS General Secretariat has been accompanying Haiti, a founding member of the Organization, during both electoral and verification processes that have taken place within the last year, and it will continue to play a positive role in the electoral process,” Almagro said.

The reactions come after Haiti’s main donors, which include the United States, earlier in the week reluctantly gave the go ahead to re-run the vote despite protests from former President Michel Martelly’s PHTK party and supporters.

On Wednesday as Haiti opened the process for the 54 presidential candidates to confirm their participation in the Oct. 9 rerun, Martelly’s supporters took to the streets calling for the departure of Jocelerme Privert ,whose term as interim president is set to expire on Tuesday.

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