The Haitian government has pulled off the largest and the most complex elections in Haiti's history.
The violence that habitually characterized Haitian elections was nonexistent or so minor that they didn't have any impact whatsoever on the overall process.
Voting was relatively orderly across the nation due mostly to the heavy presence of the Haitian National Police (PNH) in the streets.
The National Police was heavily criticized for its lack of presence in the streets during the first round of the legislative elections which took place August 9th; this time, its seems that a new strategy was put en place to provide better securities to the voters and voting facilities. All 15.000 members of the national police force in addition to a few hundreds UN soldiers were deployed to assure adequate security on election day.
Image credit BBC
Unlike last time, the Haitian National Police was praised for its timely and effective response to reports of either violence or other disturbance. The chief of the Haitian National Police, Godson Orelus has confirmed the arrestation of over 234 people, among them, supporters of incumbent president Michel Martelly; the seizure of 13 firearms and the confiscation of four vehicles have also been made. A police officer has been placed in isolation because ballots for a certain candidate were found inside of his patrol car. Voting Issues Many voting centers around Cite Soleil were not able to open on time due to logistical issues, but the CEP extended the voting time at these centers, beyond the 4:00 PM deadline.
-Materials weren’t delivered to 400 polling stations in Borgne after materials were burned. -Many shots were fired around Cap Haitian, Grande Saline and Petit Goave, but in all these instances, Haitian Polie were able to quickly gained control of the situation. A protests in Jacmel was also rapidly dissipated by the police.
Lack of voters privacy Intimidation as in the previous election was of great concerned this time around as well. Haiti’s electoral laws allow parties to send their own monitor to polling stations; many parties observers used their position to threaten at the polling stations, people to vote for their candidates. Although a few were arrested by the Police, in many remote communities with less or no police presence, voters were pressured by the supporters of some candidates, in front of voting centers as well as inside the aforementioned facilities.
High Voters turn-out
Image credit BBC
Haitians belied all analyzes which feared a low turnout, The high level of security that was felt around the country despite some minor incidents, encouraged most of the 5 million registered voters to go en masse to the polling stations. People waited for hours in endless lines despite the heat; they waited quietly, in Indian queues at the entrance of the polling stations. And these citizens have expressed their desire for change, to see their country out of political instability, chronic poverty among endless woes and to choose between 53 presidential candidates, with results not due for a week, who will succeed Michel Martelly; constitutionally banned from seeking a consecutive mandate ; as well as hundreds of candidates to fill Parliament, dissolved earlier this year amid a gridlock between the executive and legislative.
Three candidates are among the favorites but only two will be allowed to participate in the upcoming runoff in December. Most likely, the runoff, if the international community doesn't intervene and hand-pick candidates who will participate, like when the US State Department under the reign of Hillary Clinton forced the Haitian government to change the results of the 2010 election; Jude Celestin who was discarded by Haitian officials from the 2010 presidential race after pressure from the US and Jovenel Moise will face off.
Jovenel Moise is an entrepreneur, best known for his recently founded banana-exporting business Agritrans, and Jude Celestin, a Swiss-educated mechanical engineer who previously headed a government construction agency. Whoever wins will have the daunting task of reeling this country out misery.
While the Haitian National Police deserve all the praise it is receiving at the moment, we must not forget that elections are not over. The last elections which will determine who will take over the impoverished nation of Haiti, will take place in December. The political environment will be even more charged as results will be definitive.
The Haitian Police must continue to learn from past incidents and mistakes, improved to guarantee the smoothest running possible of the last round of presidential elections.
In : Elections