New CEP suggests delayed Haiti elections

CEP president Léopold Berlanger

Haiti’s newly appointed nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has hinted at the possibility of delaying the scheduled April 24 presidential election run-off, claiming that the country is not yet ready for the poll.

CEP president Léopold Berlanger, told a news conference that the CEP couldn’t talk about an election calendar until figuring out first what is affecting the electoral process. He said the formation of a verification commission to address the allegations of “massive” fraud and determine who belongs in the second round “is a political decision” that are best left to others.

“You have to understand what malfunction has [happened], and what needs to be done to fix it before the second (round) can take off,” Berlanger said, adding “after we determine that, we can continue with the electoral calendar”

Berlanger told reporters he could not say how long the CEP’s evaluation would take, but there are many unresolved issues that need to be addressed in order to stage a free, fair and transparent election. Of the 140 municipal elections that were held during the first round of voting on October 25, last year alongside the presidential first round and legislative runoffs, 81 are being contested.

“That is something grave,” Berlanger said, adding “it shows that the process is sick.”

The electoral process was stopped after challenges from the opposition, which condemned an “electoral coup d’état” masterminded by the executive power. In the first round of presidential voting in October, Jovenel Moise officially won 32.76 percent of the vote, to 25.29 percent for Jude Celestin, who denounced those results as a “ridiculous farce.”

A second round of presidential and partial legislative elections, initially set for December 27, was postponed indefinitely, preventing outgoing President Michel Martelly from handing power to an elected successor on February 7, as required under the constitution. The vote, a runoff between Martelly’s favored candidate Jovenel Moise and opposition flag-bearer Jude Celestin, was called off following violence and opposition protests by demonstrators alleging that foul play had helped the government candidate take the first round. Under an agreement reached following Martelly’s departure, the new date for the election was set for April 24, with a new president installed May 14.

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