Almost two months after the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced the preliminary results of the Haiti’s November elections, the CEP is planning on announcing the final results today. The biggest question is who will be included in the March 20th run-off. A couple of factors have muddied this situation considerably, so here’s a quick breakdown:
The preliminary results were released on November 8th, and were broken down like this:
1. Mirlande Manigat – 31.37% (336,878 votes)
2. Jude Celestin – 22.48% (241,462 votes)
(Photo by Ben Depp)
3. Michel Joseph Martelly – 21.84% (234,617 votes)
These results were received with an incredible amount of anger, as reports of fraud committed by Celestin’s camp forced tens of thousands of Martelly supporters onto the street to fight Celestin’s inclusion in the run-off, and Martelly’s subsequent exclusion. In addition, there were reports that President Preval had pressured the CEP to change the results so that Celestin overtook Martelly.
As a result, President Preval requested that the Organization of American States (OAS) do a review of the results, and submit it to him and the CEP in an effort to quell the anger that had resulted after the announcement. While the review was never made public, the AP got a copy of it (link to article here), and here is the breakdown as the OAS saw it:
1. Mirlande Manigat – 31.6% (323,048 votes [13,830 votes found invalid])
2. Michel Joseph Martelly – 22.2% (227,467 votes [7,150 votes found invalid])
3. Jude Celestin – 21.9% (224,242 votes [17,220 votes found invalid])
(Photo by Ben Depp)
The results were delivered to President Preval and the CEP, who then came out and said that these were simply a suggestion, and that they did not have to be followed. The United States Government, as well as a number of other major international bodies, then came out saying the that the CEP needs to go with the OAS recommendations, or else… “We urge the Provisional Electoral Council to review and implement the OAS report’s recommendations,” U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said in a statement on January 20th, “Sustained support from the international community, including the United States, requires a credible process that represents the will of the Haitian people, as expressed by their votes.” Secretary of State Hilary Clinton later clarified that the United States would NOT be pulling funding if the run-off did not include the OAS recommendation.
The CEP then came out and said that they can’t do anything, according to the Haitian Constitution, without a formal appeal by the candidate. On the same day that Susan Rice made her statement, Martelly’s lawyers walked into the CEP, and formally submitted an appeal claiming that their candidate should be included in the run-off. A couple weeks prior to that, Jude Celestin’s lawyers walked into the CEP and submitted an appeal of their own. Their claim? That Celestin won 52% of the vote and that there shouldn’t be a run-off at all. No joke.
To muddy the waters even more, rumors have been flying since last week that Celestin had decided to drop out of the race, a relatively surprising decision considering how logical it was, therefor making it incredibly unlikely. It was the best case scenario: Celestin drops out, which means his people wouldn’t protest when the final results did not fall in his favor, and Martelly’s people wouldn’t take to the streets because Celestin could no longer take his place in the run-off.
The Haitian Press Corp huddled around a small, circa-1980s restaurant by the port and waited for what was supposed to be a press conference to announce his withdraw, but it never happened. Then that weekend Hillary Clinton visited Haiti and met with Manigat, Martelly AND Celestin, effectively proving that the rumor was false. Celestin’s campaign subsequently released a Youtube video which included a picture of Clinton and Celestin shaking hands covered by 14 minutes of Kompa music and titled: “Secretary Clinton Falls in Love at First Sight with Jude Celestin” (link here)
So that’s where we are left. It’s not sure yet if there will be a press conference or not, but we’ll let you know what they say no matter what. It’s sure to be an interesting couple of days, and most organizations are preparing to go on lock-down, with the UN recommending that their staff have “adequate resources (food, water, and gas, medications) for one week at least.” Most organizations have instituted travel restrictions in the city after 3pm, and some banks are closing at 2pm just to be safe. We will be safe, we always are, and we’ll keep you updated as soon as we hear news.