Friday, December 10, 2010

Haitian Elections

So if you've been following Haitian news, you know that Haiti just had a big round of elections on the 28th of November, including new presidential elections. Its been a big deal, and its really important who wins. The current president, Rene Preval, is widely disliked. A lot of the foreign aid that was promised to Haiti after the earthquake has yet to be distributed because of the distrust of the current government. His son-in-law, Jude Celestin, is running for president. He is also fairly widely disliked, although he has his supporters. Corruption runs rampant through the government, and though a new president won't change all of that, it should help.

The results of this election were announced on Tuesday evening. Mirlande Manigat, the leading opposition candidate, got about 32% of the vote. Jude Celestin, who had been in third place, suddenly moved into second place the day the results were announced, with about 22% of the vote, Michel "Mickey" Martelly, the other opposition candidate and Haitian pop star, coming in third, 6,800 votes behind Celestin. The way Haiti's elections work, if no one has an outright majority after the first election (which is likely, given that there are somewhere around 20 candidates) there is a run-off election between the top two candidates.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. The day after the election, 12 of the 19 candidates got together and said that they wanted the election thrown out because of election fraud. There were accusations of stuffing the ballot boxes, people showing up and not being on the list of eligible voters, intimidation, and the like, including one guy who showed up to vote and he wasn't on the list, but his dead brother was. After the results were announced, Martelly's supporters took to the streets protesting, claiming the results were tampered with and Martelly should be in the run-off instead of Celestin. Celestin's campaign manager then said he was going to protest the results too, claiming Celestin should have gotten 52% of the vote, winning the election outright. (A pretty outrageous claim if you ask me.)

Since Wednesday, we haven't had school becasue of the protests. They haven't been too violent; its more of a volume thing. Wednesday, the whole city basically shut down becasue there were so many people in the streets that no one could get to work. The protesters have set fire to a lot of Jude Celestin's campaign banners across the city, as well as setting fire to his party headquarters. It has gotten a bit quieter, but people are still blocking the streets and a smoky/foggy haze hangs over the city. Its been pretty quiet up around us, as most of the protests have been more downtown and in Petionville. (If you're worried about our saftey, you shouldn't worry too much. There's been no protest activity in our area.)

Today (or possibly last night), election officials announced they would recount all the votes in the presence of the three leading candidates, Mirlande Manigat, Jude Celestin and Michel Martelly, and international observers. Which, I think, is a great move. The could have hardly done otherwise though. There are so many eyes on Haiti right now, and such popular discontent with the current government that it would have been difficult for the election comission to have ignored these protests. We'll wait and see what happens, but its good news for democracy in Haiti.

I don't have any pictures cause we're too far away from the action, but check out news sites for some photos. I know BBC and the New York Times have articles and pictures. is where I found info about the recount.

1 comment:

  1. Jaimie,
    is international news on the internet the only way to find out what is really going on?