PORT-AU-PRINCE— A presidential runoff that had already been delayed once and faced deep public skepticism was put on hold indefinitely Friday, as Haiti's leaders sought to negotiate a resolution to what threatens to become a constitutional crisis.
As this Sunday’s elections approach, Haiti is in the throes of a full-blown political crisis. Many Haitians are in open revolt against the electoral process, while the credibility of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) is in shambles and the legitimacy of the new parliament is in doubt. Second-place presidential candidate Jude Célestin has refused to campaign and is boycotting the runoff vote set for January 24, leaving government-backed candidate Jovenel Moise without an opponent going into the second round.
A member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation is "deeply concerned" about the developing electoral crisis in Haiti and wants assurances from Secretary of State John Kerry that he will "make every effort possible" to support free and fair elections. The letter from US Rep. Katherine M. Clark— dated Jan. 19— comes just days before a scheduled Jan. 24 presidential run-off election that is in turmoil, with one of the two finalists calling for a national boycott.
Haiti is reporting its first cases of a mosquito-borne virus that is rapidly spreading in the Americas and is suspected of causing over 3,500 birth defects in Brazil.
Public Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume announced Friday that there have been five confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Haiti. She says they are all in the area of Port-au-Prince, the overcrowded capital.
Celestin accuses US of double-standard in pushing for election
PORT-AU-PRINCE— Haiti's opposition candidate for president is warning that if a runoff is held next weekend as scheduled it will be a big step back for the country's fragile democracy and lead to increased turmoil in the sharply divided nation.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Jude Celestin said he has such deep concerns about vote-rigging and a lack of transparency by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council that he is boycotting a Jan. 24 presidential runoff. His party will not send any monitors to polling stations.
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Campaigning for Haiti's presidential runoff election kicked off Friday, though it appears there is only one candidate who will actively participate.
Government-backed contender Jovenel Moise, a little-known agricultural entrepreneur who led a crowded field of 54 candidates with nearly 33 percent of the vote in the Oct. 25 first round, attracted roughly 1,500 people to his first rally Friday evening. Big speakers pumped out bass-heavy songs featuring his campaign moniker, "Neg Bannann'' — Banana Man in Haitian Creole — and a group of women wore yellow banana costumes.
SANTO DOMINGO — Cresnel Ceus no longer lives in the shadows. For the first time in 15 years, the Haitian migrant can move about this country without fear of being detained at any moment. He can get a formal job and perform such routine acts as opening his own bank account and getting his own phone.
Perhaps most important to Ceus, he can pack up his fruit stall and take his two children across the border to his native Haiti for the first time in their lives without the fear that he won't be allowed to return to the Dominican Republic.
PORT-AU-PRINCE— A commission probing Haiti's disputed presidential election reported Sunday that a first-round vote was plagued by irregularities, but indicated a final run-off can take place as scheduled in two weeks.
The report says the Oct. 25 contest between 54 candidates was "stained by irregularities,'' in which poll watchers intervened to help several candidates, whom it doesn't name. It recommends possible legal action against poll workers and others involved.
PORT-AU-PRINCE—A decision to postpone a presidential runoff in Haiti could help the leading candidate address what may be his greatest liability: Most voters know hardly anything about him.
Ads for Jovenel Moise have blanketed Haitian TV and radio for weeks and he has held rallies across the country. Social media users have been bombarded with campaign pitches and slick images of him working at a banana exporting venture or decorating a Christmas tree with his family.
Yet few feel they know the political newcomer, a businessman who had never run for office until he was hand-picked by outgoing President Michel Martelly.
PORT-AU-PRINCE— President Michel Martelly is defending much-criticized elections in divided Haiti and asserts that the opposition has spread unsubstantiated allegations about widespread electoral fraud purely to strengthen its position.
During an interview with The Associated Press, Martelly said he believed that disputed official results showing the government-backed candidate topped October's first round presidential vote was a genuine reflection of voters' will.