New bribery scandals strengthen popular movement call for independent commission and transitional government
A corruption scandal threatens to derail the whole electoral process in Haiti and the installation of the 50th Legislature in January.
Several legislative candidates on Haitian radio airwaves on Wednesday, were detailing how they were asked to pay thousands of dollars in bribes to the judges of the Electoral Court and to members of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in hopes of securing a place in the new parliament.
Although an anonymous member of the CEP refuted the radio journalists’ allegations, a judge who has also been accused, later confirmed that bribes were made -- but not to him.
Among those who came forward with bribing allegations was Gerald Jean, a candidate for the VERITE (truth) party. Jean was in the running to represent the commune of Ferrier in the lower House of Deputies.
Jean explained to several radio stations how he paid more than $ 25,000 to a judge and a member of the CEP in hopes of winning his candidacy. He showed copies of two bank deposit slips and said another $ 15,000 in cash was delivered in an envelope.
The whole story is like a Hollywood blockbuster: judges met in secret with candidates in hotels and bars collecting large sums of money and promised candidates a place in the next parliament.
Earlier today, outgoing president Michel Martelly issued a presidential decree creating an "evaluation commission". Martelly claimed the commission would ensure that the second round of elections would not be tainted by fraud allegations, as in the first round.
But, collectively his proposal has been rejected by the opposition parties. Since the publication of the October election results, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets, denouncing what they say is "massive electoral fraud" and demand the formation of an independent commission to verify all the ballots from the first round.
At this point however, no commission will ensure a fair second round. The level of corruption is too widespread, the population's trust in this government is non-existent.
Some observers of Haiti now question whether the presidential runoff on December 27 remains a possibility, and whether an election with the current CEP is at all feasible and acceptable for anyone, given the corruption scandals.
Many, including leading journalists such as Valery Numa; are already urging the Minister of Justice, to conduct further investigations, and to make an example of those found to have accepted money in exchange for the legislative positions.
Given that international and local observers, candidates, and the CEP itself have shown that widespread corruption has indeed occurred, going ahead with this election will plunge Haiti into an even darker political nightmare. The people will not accept the results and mass protest and violence will follow for months to come-- possibly until the next presidential elections in 2021, taking into account Haiti’s political history.
Long before the bribing scandal was made public, the United States, the largest donor for the organisation of these elections, ($30million), as well as all the major international players such as France, Canada, Brazil, OAS and the United Nations still support the contested results, and refuse the call for an independent commission to verify the ballots of the first round of October. The United States and the international community fear that an independent commission will find so many fraudulent practices that the elections will have to be organized all over again. And with Michel Martelly in office for fewer than two months, it will not be possible for him to re-organize another election, resulting in the formation of a transitional government headed by the Prime Minister, as prescribed by Haiti's constitution, to organize these new elections.
In : Corruptions