Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

Ever since the first democratic elections in 1990, the influence of foreign actors over Haiti’s political process has only increased. Foreign donors have financed Haitian elections, UN troops have transported ballots and guarded polling stations, international observers have granted (or withheld) legitimacy to electoral outcomes, and foreign embassies have intervened when postelectoral crises erupt. Due to this preponderant role played in elections, the so-called international community ? the polite term for the dominant powers, organized now as the Core Group ? has often had the last word in Haitian politics.

This state of affairs has engendered even greater distrust in the political process. Sensing that it was not voters but foreign diplomats who decided who could be president, Haitians’ participation in elections has plummeted, from greater than 50 percent participation a decade ago to only about 25 percent last year. But with the developments over the past year and a half, that cycle looked to be breaking down.

The decision of the Haitian authorities, with the support of civil society, to rerun the election was a huge blow to the US and its allies in the international community. The Core Group (which brings together the ambassadors of the US, Canada, France, Brazil, Spain, the European Union, and the special representatives of the Organization of American States and the secretary general of the United Nations) had vigorously opposed calls for a verification commission and the formation of a transitional government after the October 25, 2015 elections. Many advocated for a continuation of last year’s vote, despite the protests of political actors and civil society, and the boycott of second-place finisher Jude Celestin. As Haiti expert Robert Maguire noted at the time, “the objective seems simply to be able to check an ‘elections done’ box.”

The US and the Core Group was also worried that new elections might give the Lavalas-aligned candidates (Maryse Narcisse and Moïse Jean-Charles) a better chance at the presidency. “They’re not thrilled with Aristide’s forces coming back,” a US congressional source told Reuters regarding the Obama administration’s reaction to the antifraud protests. Another concern for the Obama administration was keeping Haiti ? where Hillary Clinton had developed a negative reputation ? out of the headlines during the US presidential campaign.

An organized and mobilized civil society rejected the dictates of the foreign actors and the interim government that took over when former president Martelly’s term expired responded to these demands. Confronted by this stunning development, European Union observers pulled out of the country after the decision to rerun the presidential election. The US withdrew $2 million in funding that remained in a UN-managed election basket fund and, with Canada, pledged not to provide additional money for this year’s election. Foreign aid was reduced over the last year, with many embassies refusing to attend meetings with the provisional president, or even go to the National Palace over the last nine months.

A notable exception was the OAS.  While echoing some of the EU’s criticisms, the OAS observers did not actively oppose the decision to rerun the election and pledged to continue accompanying the process. Still, after the OAS’ widely criticized intervention in the 2010 election and their early and steadfast support for last year’s results, the OAS has been discredited in many Haitians’ eyes.

The Haitian government’s pledge to fund the elections itself was another significant step toward greater sovereignty and independence. While previously legitimacy was bestowed from abroad, now it is clear that it must be Haitians that provide the ultimate barometer of the election’s success.

But some of these advances have been slowed or thwarted by the passing of Hurricane Matthew. With a dire humanitarian situation, it was necessary for the provisional government to obtain funds and support from international actors. With the damage to electoral infrastructure and the newly created logistics problems, further support for the electoral process was also necessary.

This is has put the international community in a better position to influence and wield power over the Haitian government and the electoral process. Interestingly, after criticizing the postponements and investigations over the last year, it was international actors that pressured for a longer delay after the early-October hurricane, though there was an insistence on moving forward with elections no later than November.

Since the hurricane, the US has announced they will in fact provide funding for UNOPS to handle electoral logistics and statements from the UN and others have been largely supportive of the interim government’s efforts to hold the elections, even praising improvements in the electoral process.

In addition to regaining their diminished influence, foreign donors have other interests ahead of Sunday’s vote. With relief efforts following Hurricane Matthew ? and millions of dollars ? on the line, there is a lot more at stake in these upcoming elections, for all interested parties.

Ever since the first democratic elections in 1990, the influence of foreign actors over Haiti’s political process has only increased. Foreign donors have financed Haitian elections, UN troops have transported ballots and guarded polling stations, international observers have granted (or withheld) legitimacy to electoral outcomes, and foreign embassies have intervened when postelectoral crises erupt. Due to this preponderant role played in elections, the so-called international community ? the polite term for the dominant powers, organized now as the Core Group ? has often had the last word in Haitian politics.

This state of affairs has engendered even greater distrust in the political process. Sensing that it was not voters but foreign diplomats who decided who could be president, Haitians’ participation in elections has plummeted, from greater than 50 percent participation a decade ago to only about 25 percent last year. But with the developments over the past year and a half, that cycle looked to be breaking down.

The decision of the Haitian authorities, with the support of civil society, to rerun the election was a huge blow to the US and its allies in the international community. The Core Group (which brings together the ambassadors of the US, Canada, France, Brazil, Spain, the European Union, and the special representatives of the Organization of American States and the secretary general of the United Nations) had vigorously opposed calls for a verification commission and the formation of a transitional government after the October 25, 2015 elections. Many advocated for a continuation of last year’s vote, despite the protests of political actors and civil society, and the boycott of second-place finisher Jude Celestin. As Haiti expert Robert Maguire noted at the time, “the objective seems simply to be able to check an ‘elections done’ box.”

The US and the Core Group was also worried that new elections might give the Lavalas-aligned candidates (Maryse Narcisse and Moïse Jean-Charles) a better chance at the presidency. “They’re not thrilled with Aristide’s forces coming back,” a US congressional source told Reuters regarding the Obama administration’s reaction to the antifraud protests. Another concern for the Obama administration was keeping Haiti ? where Hillary Clinton had developed a negative reputation ? out of the headlines during the US presidential campaign.

An organized and mobilized civil society rejected the dictates of the foreign actors and the interim government that took over when former president Martelly’s term expired responded to these demands. Confronted by this stunning development, European Union observers pulled out of the country after the decision to rerun the presidential election. The US withdrew $2 million in funding that remained in a UN-managed election basket fund and, with Canada, pledged not to provide additional money for this year’s election. Foreign aid was reduced over the last year, with many embassies refusing to attend meetings with the provisional president, or even go to the National Palace over the last nine months.

A notable exception was the OAS.  While echoing some of the EU’s criticisms, the OAS observers did not actively oppose the decision to rerun the election and pledged to continue accompanying the process. Still, after the OAS’ widely criticized intervention in the 2010 election and their early and steadfast support for last year’s results, the OAS has been discredited in many Haitians’ eyes.

The Haitian government’s pledge to fund the elections itself was another significant step toward greater sovereignty and independence. While previously legitimacy was bestowed from abroad, now it is clear that it must be Haitians that provide the ultimate barometer of the election’s success.

But some of these advances have been slowed or thwarted by the passing of Hurricane Matthew. With a dire humanitarian situation, it was necessary for the provisional government to obtain funds and support from international actors. With the damage to electoral infrastructure and the newly created logistics problems, further support for the electoral process was also necessary.

This is has put the international community in a better position to influence and wield power over the Haitian government and the electoral process. Interestingly, after criticizing the postponements and investigations over the last year, it was international actors that pressured for a longer delay after the early-October hurricane, though there was an insistence on moving forward with elections no later than November.

Since the hurricane, the US has announced they will in fact provide funding for UNOPS to handle electoral logistics and statements from the UN and others have been largely supportive of the interim government’s efforts to hold the elections, even praising improvements in the electoral process.

In addition to regaining their diminished influence, foreign donors have other interests ahead of Sunday’s vote. With relief efforts following Hurricane Matthew ? and millions of dollars ? on the line, there is a lot more at stake in these upcoming elections, for all interested parties.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here.
Read Part 2: Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, here.
Read Part 3: The Parliament, here

The devastating passage of hurricane Matthew has changed the dynamics of the upcoming election in Haiti. Following last year’s fraudulent elections, the new electoral council has been making changes in order to produce a more legitimate outcome this year, but the hurricane has raised new concerns.

A significant number of voting centers in the affected area have been destroyed or damaged. Many are also being used as temporary shelters. Efforts have been ongoing to repair or set up tents to replace voting centers, and the electoral council has stated that 80 percent of damaged voting centers have been repaired, and that all are able to be reached. However, the true test will come Sunday.

Additionally, many communities remain almost completely out of contact and unable to be reached. Electoral materials have been distributed throughout the country, but there is a high probability of delays on Sunday morning in some hard-to-reach areas. Damage to infrastructure, and ongoing flooding in parts of the country could also dissuade voters from going to the polls. Turnout ? which has already reached abysmal levels in recent elections ? will be a key indicator.

Many voters also lost their identity cards in the storm. Though it is unclear how many Haitians were impacted, and the government has pledged to provide new cards to those in need, the full scale of the problem is still unknown. The government agency responsible for providing the ID cards said last week that only 2,000 new cards have been requested, indicating that many may simply be dealing with basic necessities like having a roof over one’s head or securing food, rather than voting. This has created uncertainty around the ability of Haitians in the southern peninsula to exercise their democratic rights. 

Beyond the technical problems that have been created by the hurricane, there are severe humanitarian issues. Hundreds of thousands across the southern peninsula have been left with no homes, no crops and no safe water. Relief efforts are ongoing, but have been inadequate to address the many needs. Is it simply too soon to ask the Haitian people most impacted by this storm to think about an election?

Between 10 and 15 percent of registered voters reside in the storm-ravaged southern peninsula, and many more in the northern departments that have more recently been affected by heavy rains and flooding. It is clear the election in these areas will be significantly impacted, and many will be disenfranchised. It’s also possible that with lower turnout in more rural provinces, it will be, more than ever, Port-au-Prince determining who the next president will be.

This is likely to reinforce centralization in the “republic of Port-au-Prince”, further isolating rural provinces and towns that have long felt disconnected from the political and economic elite in the country’s capital.

Though the results of last year’s election were tainted by widespread irregularities, they do provide some indication of where candidates had the strongest support. The PHTK’s Jovenel Moise was weakest in the West and South-East departments and strongest in the northern departments as well as the Grand Anse and South. Those are the areas that have been the most impacted by the hurricane and subsequent flooding, potentially decreasing the PHTK’s vote share. On the flip side, both Pitit Dessalines and Fanmi Lavalas did comparatively well in the West department, especially in Port-au-Prince.

With the elections taking place during a time of scarcity and great need, there is also the potential for vote buying and voter coercion to take on an even larger role. In some areas, local politicians running for office may actually be in control of much needed relief supplies, making the population believe that voting for them is the best way to ensure access to goods. It has also created a larger market for more direct forms of vote buying.

The ability of the police to ensure a calm and safe voting environment, in the context of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, is also a big question heading into this weekend. Earlier this week, the United Nations signed a security plan with the Haitian National Police. There will be around 13,000 security personnel from both institutions deployed across the country.

There is, of course, a tremendous need to hold an election and move again toward an elected government, however there are also serious risks with moving ahead when the country is not prepared for an election. The 2010 election, which took place in in the midst of the aftermath of the earthquake and the cholera epidemic, provides a warning. That election was so flawed that it failed to produce a legitimate president, leading to five years of political instability and the current electoral impasse Haiti finds itself in. Elections are not a panacea, and poorly run elections can do lasting damage to a democracy.

Though all parties appear to be supporting the current process, one concern is that the issues likely to arise due to storm damage will give political actors a pretext to contest the results, regardless of how voting goes on Sunday. As reports are gathered from across the country, the risk of violence and other voting disruptions is likely to grow throughout the day.

Finally, though improvements have been made in terms of rural access and infrastructure since the passage of Hurricane Matthew, rains continue to fall across the country, causing new flooding and likely new problems ahead of the election. The forecast for this weekend: more rain.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here.
Read Part 2: Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, here.
Read Part 3: The Parliament, here

The devastating passage of hurricane Matthew has changed the dynamics of the upcoming election in Haiti. Following last year’s fraudulent elections, the new electoral council has been making changes in order to produce a more legitimate outcome this year, but the hurricane has raised new concerns.

A significant number of voting centers in the affected area have been destroyed or damaged. Many are also being used as temporary shelters. Efforts have been ongoing to repair or set up tents to replace voting centers, and the electoral council has stated that 80 percent of damaged voting centers have been repaired, and that all are able to be reached. However, the true test will come Sunday.

Additionally, many communities remain almost completely out of contact and unable to be reached. Electoral materials have been distributed throughout the country, but there is a high probability of delays on Sunday morning in some hard-to-reach areas. Damage to infrastructure, and ongoing flooding in parts of the country could also dissuade voters from going to the polls. Turnout ? which has already reached abysmal levels in recent elections ? will be a key indicator.

Many voters also lost their identity cards in the storm. Though it is unclear how many Haitians were impacted, and the government has pledged to provide new cards to those in need, the full scale of the problem is still unknown. The government agency responsible for providing the ID cards said last week that only 2,000 new cards have been requested, indicating that many may simply be dealing with basic necessities like having a roof over one’s head or securing food, rather than voting. This has created uncertainty around the ability of Haitians in the southern peninsula to exercise their democratic rights. 

Beyond the technical problems that have been created by the hurricane, there are severe humanitarian issues. Hundreds of thousands across the southern peninsula have been left with no homes, no crops and no safe water. Relief efforts are ongoing, but have been inadequate to address the many needs. Is it simply too soon to ask the Haitian people most impacted by this storm to think about an election?

Between 10 and 15 percent of registered voters reside in the storm-ravaged southern peninsula, and many more in the northern departments that have more recently been affected by heavy rains and flooding. It is clear the election in these areas will be significantly impacted, and many will be disenfranchised. It’s also possible that with lower turnout in more rural provinces, it will be, more than ever, Port-au-Prince determining who the next president will be.

This is likely to reinforce centralization in the “republic of Port-au-Prince”, further isolating rural provinces and towns that have long felt disconnected from the political and economic elite in the country’s capital.

Though the results of last year’s election were tainted by widespread irregularities, they do provide some indication of where candidates had the strongest support. The PHTK’s Jovenel Moise was weakest in the West and South-East departments and strongest in the northern departments as well as the Grand Anse and South. Those are the areas that have been the most impacted by the hurricane and subsequent flooding, potentially decreasing the PHTK’s vote share. On the flip side, both Pitit Dessalines and Fanmi Lavalas did comparatively well in the West department, especially in Port-au-Prince.

With the elections taking place during a time of scarcity and great need, there is also the potential for vote buying and voter coercion to take on an even larger role. In some areas, local politicians running for office may actually be in control of much needed relief supplies, making the population believe that voting for them is the best way to ensure access to goods. It has also created a larger market for more direct forms of vote buying.

The ability of the police to ensure a calm and safe voting environment, in the context of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, is also a big question heading into this weekend. Earlier this week, the United Nations signed a security plan with the Haitian National Police. There will be around 13,000 security personnel from both institutions deployed across the country.

There is, of course, a tremendous need to hold an election and move again toward an elected government, however there are also serious risks with moving ahead when the country is not prepared for an election. The 2010 election, which took place in in the midst of the aftermath of the earthquake and the cholera epidemic, provides a warning. That election was so flawed that it failed to produce a legitimate president, leading to five years of political instability and the current electoral impasse Haiti finds itself in. Elections are not a panacea, and poorly run elections can do lasting damage to a democracy.

Though all parties appear to be supporting the current process, one concern is that the issues likely to arise due to storm damage will give political actors a pretext to contest the results, regardless of how voting goes on Sunday. As reports are gathered from across the country, the risk of violence and other voting disruptions is likely to grow throughout the day.

Finally, though improvements have been made in terms of rural access and infrastructure since the passage of Hurricane Matthew, rains continue to fall across the country, causing new flooding and likely new problems ahead of the election. The forecast for this weekend: more rain.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here

Read Part 2: Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, here

Often lost in the discussion of Haiti’s presidential race is the fact that many legislative seats are up for grabs as well, including more than half of the Senate. Currently, the parliament is pretty evenly split between political factions but with such a high number of seats left to be decided the balance of power could shift dramatically this weekend. Control of the legislative body is especially important in Haiti’s political system, where it is parliament that approves the new prime minister and government program.

The presidential election was scheduled to coincide with the expiration of one-third of the Senate. Ten Senators had been elected to six-year terms in 2010, so ten first-round races for senate seats will be conducted on November 20. Six second-round Senate races and two dozen second-round races for Deputy will be held as well. The second-round races are the continuation of last year’s fraud- and violence-plagued elections.

For the ten first-round senate elections (one in each department), 149 candidates have registered, coming from 43 different political parties. Interestingly, it is Fanmi Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines who have registered the most candidates of the four major presidential parties with 10 and 9 respectively. With candidates competing in all ten departments, it could bolster rural votes at the presidential level. PHTK and LAPEH, on the other hand, have registered 7 and 6 candidates respectively.

For the second-round senate races still to be competed, parties allied with PHTK make up the majority of candidates. Due to high levels of fraud and violence in the August 9, 2015 legislative election, first-round reruns were conducted for these races in 3 departments (Center, Grand Anse and Nord) last October. Nine of the 12 Senatorial candidates participating in this Sunday’s second round are from PHTK, Bouclier and Consortium (all allies) while no other party has more than one candidate. With two senators being elected from each of these races, PHTK and its allies are guaranteed at least one additional seat in each department.

At the deputy level, there are 25 second-round races that will be completed on Sunday. Again, it is PHTK and allied parties that make up the largest number of candidates, accounting for 40 percent overall, putting them in a good position to pick up seats in the lower chamber. The number of races, broken down by department is as follows: West (6), North (6), Artibonite (4), Center (2), Grand’Anse (2), South-East (2), South (2) and North-West (1).

A positive showing for PHTK and its associates could cement their control of parliament. The leadership of the Chamber of Deputies is already allied with PHTK, as is a substantial minority bloc in the Senate. In September, 48 of the 93 deputies signed a letter endorsing PHTK’s Jovenel Moise for president and offered about $30,000 in campaign funding. Senator Youri Latortue (who a former US ambassador described as the “poster boy” for corruption in Haiti) has been campaigning in the Artibonite with Moise.

In the event of a Jovenel Moïse victory, the incoming president would enjoy a blank check from a PHTK-dominated parliament; otherwise, PHTK’s strong position could be a source of gridlock between the parliamentary and the executive branches of government. One caveat is that political allegiances in Haiti are notoriously fickle. While candidates may run under one political banner, once elected, it is entirely possible for them to stake out a very different position. Already in the campaign, parliamentary candidates have endorsed presidential candidates from outside their own party. A new law on the formation of political parties, passed during the Martelly administration, allowed new parties to form with as few as 20 signatures, leading to many new, small parties registering.

No matter the outcome of November 20, the legacy of last year’s elections will be cemented with the new parliament. Serious questions have been raised about the legitimacy of current members of parliament, some of whom were elected only through controversial electoral court decisions or in the fraud and violence-plagued 2015 votes. The commission investigating electoral fraud recommended reviewing many of these decisions, but the CEP has made little headway since then. The commission allowed the parliamentary results of the October 25, 2015 vote to stand, even though it called for the presidential results to be discarded due to the level of fraud and irregularities. Parliament has been barely functional since new members took their seats last January.

The parliamentary elections could also lead to the swearing in of numerous candidates that have been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Before last year’s legislative race, rules were relaxed that allowed candidates to register without proving a clean criminal record. The most notable registrant was Guy Philippe, a former police and paramilitary commander who has been accused of gross human rights violations and who is a DEA most-wanted fugitive. He was an active participant in the 2004 coup against Aristide. Philippe is running for a senate seat in the Grand‘Anse department, where hurricane Matthew’s impact was greatest. Philippe has appeared on the campaign trail with PHTK’s Jovenel Moise and his political movement Consortium entered into a formal alliance with PHTK earlier this year.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here

Read Part 2: Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, here

Often lost in the discussion of Haiti’s presidential race is the fact that many legislative seats are up for grabs as well, including more than half of the Senate. Currently, the parliament is pretty evenly split between political factions but with such a high number of seats left to be decided the balance of power could shift dramatically this weekend. Control of the legislative body is especially important in Haiti’s political system, where it is parliament that approves the new prime minister and government program.

The presidential election was scheduled to coincide with the expiration of one-third of the Senate. Ten Senators had been elected to six-year terms in 2010, so ten first-round races for senate seats will be conducted on November 20. Six second-round Senate races and two dozen second-round races for Deputy will be held as well. The second-round races are the continuation of last year’s fraud- and violence-plagued elections.

For the ten first-round senate elections (one in each department), 149 candidates have registered, coming from 43 different political parties. Interestingly, it is Fanmi Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines who have registered the most candidates of the four major presidential parties with 10 and 9 respectively. With candidates competing in all ten departments, it could bolster rural votes at the presidential level. PHTK and LAPEH, on the other hand, have registered 7 and 6 candidates respectively.

For the second-round senate races still to be competed, parties allied with PHTK make up the majority of candidates. Due to high levels of fraud and violence in the August 9, 2015 legislative election, first-round reruns were conducted for these races in 3 departments (Center, Grand Anse and Nord) last October. Nine of the 12 Senatorial candidates participating in this Sunday’s second round are from PHTK, Bouclier and Consortium (all allies) while no other party has more than one candidate. With two senators being elected from each of these races, PHTK and its allies are guaranteed at least one additional seat in each department.

At the deputy level, there are 25 second-round races that will be completed on Sunday. Again, it is PHTK and allied parties that make up the largest number of candidates, accounting for 40 percent overall, putting them in a good position to pick up seats in the lower chamber. The number of races, broken down by department is as follows: West (6), North (6), Artibonite (4), Center (2), Grand’Anse (2), South-East (2), South (2) and North-West (1).

A positive showing for PHTK and its associates could cement their control of parliament. The leadership of the Chamber of Deputies is already allied with PHTK, as is a substantial minority bloc in the Senate. In September, 48 of the 93 deputies signed a letter endorsing PHTK’s Jovenel Moise for president and offered about $30,000 in campaign funding. Senator Youri Latortue (who a former US ambassador described as the “poster boy” for corruption in Haiti) has been campaigning in the Artibonite with Moise.

In the event of a Jovenel Moïse victory, the incoming president would enjoy a blank check from a PHTK-dominated parliament; otherwise, PHTK’s strong position could be a source of gridlock between the parliamentary and the executive branches of government. One caveat is that political allegiances in Haiti are notoriously fickle. While candidates may run under one political banner, once elected, it is entirely possible for them to stake out a very different position. Already in the campaign, parliamentary candidates have endorsed presidential candidates from outside their own party. A new law on the formation of political parties, passed during the Martelly administration, allowed new parties to form with as few as 20 signatures, leading to many new, small parties registering.

No matter the outcome of November 20, the legacy of last year’s elections will be cemented with the new parliament. Serious questions have been raised about the legitimacy of current members of parliament, some of whom were elected only through controversial electoral court decisions or in the fraud and violence-plagued 2015 votes. The commission investigating electoral fraud recommended reviewing many of these decisions, but the CEP has made little headway since then. The commission allowed the parliamentary results of the October 25, 2015 vote to stand, even though it called for the presidential results to be discarded due to the level of fraud and irregularities. Parliament has been barely functional since new members took their seats last January.

The parliamentary elections could also lead to the swearing in of numerous candidates that have been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Before last year’s legislative race, rules were relaxed that allowed candidates to register without proving a clean criminal record. The most notable registrant was Guy Philippe, a former police and paramilitary commander who has been accused of gross human rights violations and who is a DEA most-wanted fugitive. He was an active participant in the 2004 coup against Aristide. Philippe is running for a senate seat in the Grand‘Anse department, where hurricane Matthew’s impact was greatest. Philippe has appeared on the campaign trail with PHTK’s Jovenel Moise and his political movement Consortium entered into a formal alliance with PHTK earlier this year.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here.

In a crowded field of 54 presidential candidates, the top two finishers in last year’s elections were Jovenel Moïse (PHTK) and Jude Celestin (LAPEH). Third and fourth were Moïse Jean-Charles (Platfom Pitit Dessalines) and Maryse Narcisse (Fanmi Lavalas). Although the earlier vote was plagued by fraud and irregularities and the results were eventually discarded, the top four finishers on October 25, 2015 are expected to lead the pack of 27 candidates participating on Sunday, November 20. Here is a closer look at the principal candidates heading into this weekend’s election:

Jovenel Moïse is PHTK’s candidate. Prior to the 2015 elections when former President Martelly selected Moïse as his successor, the lanky agricultural businessman from the North was a political unknown. Moïse’s company Agritrans runs a banana plantation primarily for export in Trou-du-Nord and was set up with government financing under Martelly’s administration. During the campaign, Moïse has branded himself as “The Banana Man” (Nèg Bannann Nan). He promises to revitalize Haiti’s neglected agriculture and to remobilize Haiti’s military, which was disbanded in 1995.

While in office, Martelly campaigned aggressively for Moïse and was accused of using state resources to promote his party’s candidate. For this reason, Moïse was perceived by many as a weak Martelly surrogate. One irony of the long delay since last year’s vote is that PHTK’s Moïse may actually be in a better position now. Time has allowed him to step out from under Martelly’s shadow, posing as an opponent to the provisional government rather than the ruling party’s candidate. PHTK and its political allies in the parliament have accused the interim government and the CEP of being biased in favor of “Lavalas” and claimed that the elections may be rigged against them. They have also consistently questioned the legitimacy of the provisional president, even at one point calling on police officers to disobey orders.

After the Hurricane, PHTK leaders threatened the provisional government with street protests and legislative action if elections were not held within weeks of the storm and have been publicizing polling (notoriously suspect in Haiti) that shows Jovenel Moïse with the highest level of support among presidential candidates.

Haiti’s interminable election cycle has depleted the finances of many parties, but although PHTK is facing similar problems, they are likely the party with the deepest pockets. With greater access to resources, the party was able to continue to campaign – including in the hurricane-hit south where Moïse distributed aid to victims. Well-financed and with a cadre of international election advisors, PHTK has many factors working in their favor.

In their quest for the presidency, PHTK has allied with local politicians that, in some cases, have been tied to corruption, drug trafficking and other wrongdoing. Though the campaign has distanced itself from Martelly, there is lingering dissatisfaction with the previous government, bolstered by recent allegations of corruption, which could weigh on voter’s minds Sunday.

Jude Celestin, the second-place finisher in last year’s election and the leading figure in the boycott movement, is the candidate of Ligue alternative pour le progrès et l’émancipation haïtienne (LAPEH). In the 2010 election, Celestin competed under the banner of INITE, the party of then-president René Préval. Those elections were also plagued by widespread fraud, violence and irregularities, many stemming from the fact that elections were held in the same year as the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left more than a million displaced. An Organization of American States (OAS) commission recommended changing the results, removing Celestin from the race and replacing him with Michel Martelly, without providing evidence that Martelly had actually received more votes than Celestin. The US then issued diplomatic threats, including a possible cut off of desperately needed post-earthquake aid, in order force the Haitian government to accept the changes.

Many expected Celestin to eventually call off the boycott and participate in last year’s second-round election, but his position was unwavering and led to the cancellation of the election. His supporters consider him a savior for preventing the fraudulent elections from standing; adversaries see him as the primary cause of the political instability of the last year. After 2010 and his role in cancelling last year’s election, Celestin hasn’t made many friends in the international community, though many close to him have worked over the last year to reestablish a relationship.

Celestin has championed his boycott’s role in getting the rerun, and has pointed to his experience at CNE, the national construction company, to present himself as a builder who knows how to get things done. After the Hurricane, Celestin offered to rebuild a key bridge and construction equipment was seen plastered with his campaign image.

With the provisional president Privert coming from an allied political party, Celestin is perceived to have benefitted from the change in leadership. But it is important to note that the interim government consists of politicians from many different movements and it would be a mistake to think all, or even most, are willing or able to help his campaign.

Still Celestin, similar to PHTK, has received significant private sector backing and can likely count on support from those sectors that have historically been allied with President Préval, giving him a political machine that should be able to generate votes on election day. Still, it is interesting to note that of the three former presidents currently active in politics, Préval is the only one to not openly endorse a candidate. University professor Jacky Lumarque was Préval’s chosen candidate, but was excluded from participating by the previous electoral council under Martelly.

Moïse Jean-Charles, a former Senator from the North department, finished third in last year’s election and is once again expected to be a top vote getter. Jean-Charles was the leading opposition voice against the former Martelly government and led street protests against his rule. Jean-Charles joined Celestin in rejecting last year’s election results and initially supported the interim government and the decision to rerun the elections from scratch.

More recently, however, Pitit Dessalines has struck a similar tone as the other leading candidates in calling for elections to be held as soon as possible after hurricane Matthew.  The party has also expressed discontent with the electoral apparatus and interim government and called for greater transparency, especially in the vote counting process.

Campaigning against the traditional ruling elite and transnational control of Haiti, Jean-Charles is perhaps the candidate most feared by many in the international community and business sector. Partially as a result, his campaign has suffered from a lack of funds and Jean-Charles has been far less visible this year than he was last year. Without a foil in office such as president Martelly, Jean-Charles could have a harder time motivating his supporters this time around, especially with the lack of funding.

The party can draw from its bases in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, the country’s two largest cities, but it is unclear if it has been able to extend its reach throughout all departments.

Pitit Dessalines and Moïse Jean-Charles have likely been the movement most impacted by the reemergence of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide during this year’s campaign. Jean-Charles was a popular youth leader in Aristide’s Lavalas movement before splitting with the party in recent years.

Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the Fanmi Lavalas party, the political movement started by Aristide, came in fourth last year but has put far more resources in to the race this year. Aristide, twice deposed in US-backed coups, was largely confined to his residence after returning from exile in 2011 due to political threats and a questionable house arrest order, but with Martelly out of the picture, he has since returned to the campaign trail, leading caravans across the country with Narcisse.  Aristide appeared just once with Narcisse during the 2015 campaign.

The Lavalas party has been prevented from participating in politics in the past, and this is the first political campaign where Aristide has been in country and able to campaign since his 2004 ouster. Still, the party faces significant constraints. While Aristide is still able to generate support, he is also a highly polarizing figure with many among the upper and middle classes associating the former leader with violence, corruption and political turmoil. Among the left in Haiti, there is concern that the emergence of Aristide will pull votes away from Jean-Charles and allow for the passage of the two elite-backed candidates, Celestin and Jovenel Moïse to move on to a second round. Never the less, an alliance between Narcisse and Jean-Charles has never been seriously pursued.

The head of the electoral authority, Leopold Berlanger, was a leader of the opposition to Aristide that resulted in the 2004 coup, raising concerns about the impartiality of the electoral apparatus. The presence of industrialist Andy Apaid as an advisor to Berlanger working at the vote tabulation center – though since removed from his position – has added to the lack of trust.

Lavalas has come under criticism recently after Aristide was recorded at a campaign event last week calling for electoral protests if there is not a new president by February 7th. Some have interpreted the remarks as a threat of violence and Aristide was called in for questioning by the electoral council last week. Lavalas leaders have characterized the event as just a misinterpretation. Many other parties and candidates have made incendiary remarks over the last year and a half, without ever facing potential ramifications or questioning from the electoral authority.

Read Part 1: Timeline of Key Events, here.

In a crowded field of 54 presidential candidates, the top two finishers in last year’s elections were Jovenel Moïse (PHTK) and Jude Celestin (LAPEH). Third and fourth were Moïse Jean-Charles (Platfom Pitit Dessalines) and Maryse Narcisse (Fanmi Lavalas). Although the earlier vote was plagued by fraud and irregularities and the results were eventually discarded, the top four finishers on October 25, 2015 are expected to lead the pack of 27 candidates participating on Sunday, November 20. Here is a closer look at the principal candidates heading into this weekend’s election:

Jovenel Moïse is PHTK’s candidate. Prior to the 2015 elections when former President Martelly selected Moïse as his successor, the lanky agricultural businessman from the North was a political unknown. Moïse’s company Agritrans runs a banana plantation primarily for export in Trou-du-Nord and was set up with government financing under Martelly’s administration. During the campaign, Moïse has branded himself as “The Banana Man” (Nèg Bannann Nan). He promises to revitalize Haiti’s neglected agriculture and to remobilize Haiti’s military, which was disbanded in 1995.

While in office, Martelly campaigned aggressively for Moïse and was accused of using state resources to promote his party’s candidate. For this reason, Moïse was perceived by many as a weak Martelly surrogate. One irony of the long delay since last year’s vote is that PHTK’s Moïse may actually be in a better position now. Time has allowed him to step out from under Martelly’s shadow, posing as an opponent to the provisional government rather than the ruling party’s candidate. PHTK and its political allies in the parliament have accused the interim government and the CEP of being biased in favor of “Lavalas” and claimed that the elections may be rigged against them. They have also consistently questioned the legitimacy of the provisional president, even at one point calling on police officers to disobey orders.

After the Hurricane, PHTK leaders threatened the provisional government with street protests and legislative action if elections were not held within weeks of the storm and have been publicizing polling (notoriously suspect in Haiti) that shows Jovenel Moïse with the highest level of support among presidential candidates.

Haiti’s interminable election cycle has depleted the finances of many parties, but although PHTK is facing similar problems, they are likely the party with the deepest pockets. With greater access to resources, the party was able to continue to campaign – including in the hurricane-hit south where Moïse distributed aid to victims. Well-financed and with a cadre of international election advisors, PHTK has many factors working in their favor.

In their quest for the presidency, PHTK has allied with local politicians that, in some cases, have been tied to corruption, drug trafficking and other wrongdoing. Though the campaign has distanced itself from Martelly, there is lingering dissatisfaction with the previous government, bolstered by recent allegations of corruption, which could weigh on voter’s minds Sunday.

Jude Celestin, the second-place finisher in last year’s election and the leading figure in the boycott movement, is the candidate of Ligue alternative pour le progrès et l’émancipation haïtienne (LAPEH). In the 2010 election, Celestin competed under the banner of INITE, the party of then-president René Préval. Those elections were also plagued by widespread fraud, violence and irregularities, many stemming from the fact that elections were held in the same year as the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left more than a million displaced. An Organization of American States (OAS) commission recommended changing the results, removing Celestin from the race and replacing him with Michel Martelly, without providing evidence that Martelly had actually received more votes than Celestin. The US then issued diplomatic threats, including a possible cut off of desperately needed post-earthquake aid, in order force the Haitian government to accept the changes.

Many expected Celestin to eventually call off the boycott and participate in last year’s second-round election, but his position was unwavering and led to the cancellation of the election. His supporters consider him a savior for preventing the fraudulent elections from standing; adversaries see him as the primary cause of the political instability of the last year. After 2010 and his role in cancelling last year’s election, Celestin hasn’t made many friends in the international community, though many close to him have worked over the last year to reestablish a relationship.

Celestin has championed his boycott’s role in getting the rerun, and has pointed to his experience at CNE, the national construction company, to present himself as a builder who knows how to get things done. After the Hurricane, Celestin offered to rebuild a key bridge and construction equipment was seen plastered with his campaign image.

With the provisional president Privert coming from an allied political party, Celestin is perceived to have benefitted from the change in leadership. But it is important to note that the interim government consists of politicians from many different movements and it would be a mistake to think all, or even most, are willing or able to help his campaign.

Still Celestin, similar to PHTK, has received significant private sector backing and can likely count on support from those sectors that have historically been allied with President Préval, giving him a political machine that should be able to generate votes on election day. Still, it is interesting to note that of the three former presidents currently active in politics, Préval is the only one to not openly endorse a candidate. University professor Jacky Lumarque was Préval’s chosen candidate, but was excluded from participating by the previous electoral council under Martelly.

Moïse Jean-Charles, a former Senator from the North department, finished third in last year’s election and is once again expected to be a top vote getter. Jean-Charles was the leading opposition voice against the former Martelly government and led street protests against his rule. Jean-Charles joined Celestin in rejecting last year’s election results and initially supported the interim government and the decision to rerun the elections from scratch.

More recently, however, Pitit Dessalines has struck a similar tone as the other leading candidates in calling for elections to be held as soon as possible after hurricane Matthew.  The party has also expressed discontent with the electoral apparatus and interim government and called for greater transparency, especially in the vote counting process.

Campaigning against the traditional ruling elite and transnational control of Haiti, Jean-Charles is perhaps the candidate most feared by many in the international community and business sector. Partially as a result, his campaign has suffered from a lack of funds and Jean-Charles has been far less visible this year than he was last year. Without a foil in office such as president Martelly, Jean-Charles could have a harder time motivating his supporters this time around, especially with the lack of funding.

The party can draw from its bases in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, the country’s two largest cities, but it is unclear if it has been able to extend its reach throughout all departments.

Pitit Dessalines and Moïse Jean-Charles have likely been the movement most impacted by the reemergence of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide during this year’s campaign. Jean-Charles was a popular youth leader in Aristide’s Lavalas movement before splitting with the party in recent years.

Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the Fanmi Lavalas party, the political movement started by Aristide, came in fourth last year but has put far more resources in to the race this year. Aristide, twice deposed in US-backed coups, was largely confined to his residence after returning from exile in 2011 due to political threats and a questionable house arrest order, but with Martelly out of the picture, he has since returned to the campaign trail, leading caravans across the country with Narcisse.  Aristide appeared just once with Narcisse during the 2015 campaign.

The Lavalas party has been prevented from participating in politics in the past, and this is the first political campaign where Aristide has been in country and able to campaign since his 2004 ouster. Still, the party faces significant constraints. While Aristide is still able to generate support, he is also a highly polarizing figure with many among the upper and middle classes associating the former leader with violence, corruption and political turmoil. Among the left in Haiti, there is concern that the emergence of Aristide will pull votes away from Jean-Charles and allow for the passage of the two elite-backed candidates, Celestin and Jovenel Moïse to move on to a second round. Never the less, an alliance between Narcisse and Jean-Charles has never been seriously pursued.

The head of the electoral authority, Leopold Berlanger, was a leader of the opposition to Aristide that resulted in the 2004 coup, raising concerns about the impartiality of the electoral apparatus. The presence of industrialist Andy Apaid as an advisor to Berlanger working at the vote tabulation center – though since removed from his position – has added to the lack of trust.

Lavalas has come under criticism recently after Aristide was recorded at a campaign event last week calling for electoral protests if there is not a new president by February 7th. Some have interpreted the remarks as a threat of violence and Aristide was called in for questioning by the electoral council last week. Lavalas leaders have characterized the event as just a misinterpretation. Many other parties and candidates have made incendiary remarks over the last year and a half, without ever facing potential ramifications or questioning from the electoral authority.

Less than a week from now, on November 20, Haiti heads to the polls to choose a new president as well as dozens of legislative seats. The electoral process started in 2015 but has been repeatedly delayed and postponed due to post-election protests, candidates’ boycotts, and more recently Hurricane Matthew. The results of last October’s first-round presidential election were thrown out on the recommendation of an independent investigative commission that identified significant levels of fraud and other irregularities. Below is a timeline that traces the major events of Haiti’s extended electoral saga:

December 2014 – January 2015: Protests force Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to step down as the terms of many parliamentarians expire. President Michel Martelly’s government had not held elections for its first four years in office, allowing the president to begin ruling by decree. A new Prime Minister and CEP are appointed, tasked with organizing the legislative and presidential votes.

August 9, 2015: First-round legislative elections are so marred by violence and fraud that many races cannot be completed and must be re-run again in about a quarter of constituencies.

October 25, 2015: The first-round presidential election is held, alongside legislative reruns as well as legislative second-round elections in some localities. The elections are rejected by a growing opposition movement that alleges widespread fraud on behalf of the ruling party and its candidate, Jovenel Moise of the Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), who came in first according to the official results.

December 17, 2015: Facing increasing criticism ahead of the planned December 27 runoff, president Martelly announces a commission to investigate the elections. Given just a few days to perform its work, the commission finds significant problems and makes a number of recommendations for moving the electoral process forward.

December 21, 2015: The scheduled runoff election is postponed. Before the commission’s recommendations can be adopted, a new runoff is scheduled for January 24.

January 11, 2016: Despite growing concerns about fraud-tainted electoral results, a partial legislature is seated, consisting of 92 newly-elected deputies and 24 senators. Races for 6 senators and 26 deputies remain incomplete.

January 22, 2016: The second-round presidential and legislative elections are indefinitely called off. Second-place finisher Jude Celestin (LAPEH) had pledged to boycott the second-round and was joined by seven other opposition presidential candidates. This stance was supported by the vast majority of civil society organizations, including human rights groups, church leaders and eventually even the private sector business associations.

February 5, 2016: With Martelly’s term expiring on February 7 and no elected successor to take his place, an agreement is reached to form a transitional government. Senator Jocelerme Privert is soon after selected as interim president and given a mandate of 120 days. The deal dissipated tensions that had been rising due to concerns that Martelly would try to hold on to power. Armed paramilitaries had appeared in Port-au-Prince and clashed with Martelly opponents.

April 30, 2016: President Privert establishes an independent investigation commission to examine fraud claims and restore confidence in the electoral process before continuing with the vote. This decision is opposed by PHTK and its political allies – who are well represented in the recently-seated parliament – as well as many actors in the international community, including the European Union (EU) and the United States.

June 6, 2016: The independent commission recommends rerunning the first round presidential vote and a new electoral council announces new first-round elections scheduled for October 9, 2016. The EU observation team pulls out of the country and the US pulls funding from the election after the decision.

June 14, 2016: The interim president’s mandate expires, but parliament is unable to reach a quorum to either replace the leader or extend his term due to obstruction by the pro-PHTK bloc. Privert’s opponents refuse to recognize him as a legitimate leader and question each decision made by the interim authorities, accusing them of simply wanting to perpetuate themselves in power.

Oct 4-5, 2016: Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm, ravages the country – specifically the southern peninsula – just days before the new elections were set to take place. The election was once again postponed. One week before the scheduled October 9 vote, prospects for the vote were hopeful. Preparations were in place, electoral materials had arrived in country and were being prepared for distribution, new safeguards against fraud and abuse had been implemented and candidates had taken to the campaign trail.

Oct 14, 2016: Facing immense pressure from political actors to hold the election as soon as possible, the CEP issues a new electoral schedule calling for elections November 20. Electoral infrastructure, especially in the southern peninsula, is severely damaged with many voting centers being used as temporary shelters. The new date means that there will not be an elected president in office by February 7, as initially expected.

However with a dire humanitarian situation still raging in the southern peninsula, electoral infrastructure severely damaged and ongoing flooding in various parts of the country, skepticism remains high as to if a legitimate and free election is possible this weekend, or if it will be another blow to Haiti’s fragile democracy.

Up next, Haiti Election Primer, Part 2: The Parties, Parliament and the International Community

Less than a week from now, on November 20, Haiti heads to the polls to choose a new president as well as dozens of legislative seats. The electoral process started in 2015 but has been repeatedly delayed and postponed due to post-election protests, candidates’ boycotts, and more recently Hurricane Matthew. The results of last October’s first-round presidential election were thrown out on the recommendation of an independent investigative commission that identified significant levels of fraud and other irregularities. Below is a timeline that traces the major events of Haiti’s extended electoral saga:

December 2014 – January 2015: Protests force Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to step down as the terms of many parliamentarians expire. President Michel Martelly’s government had not held elections for its first four years in office, allowing the president to begin ruling by decree. A new Prime Minister and CEP are appointed, tasked with organizing the legislative and presidential votes.

August 9, 2015: First-round legislative elections are so marred by violence and fraud that many races cannot be completed and must be re-run again in about a quarter of constituencies.

October 25, 2015: The first-round presidential election is held, alongside legislative reruns as well as legislative second-round elections in some localities. The elections are rejected by a growing opposition movement that alleges widespread fraud on behalf of the ruling party and its candidate, Jovenel Moise of the Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), who came in first according to the official results.

December 17, 2015: Facing increasing criticism ahead of the planned December 27 runoff, president Martelly announces a commission to investigate the elections. Given just a few days to perform its work, the commission finds significant problems and makes a number of recommendations for moving the electoral process forward.

December 21, 2015: The scheduled runoff election is postponed. Before the commission’s recommendations can be adopted, a new runoff is scheduled for January 24.

January 11, 2016: Despite growing concerns about fraud-tainted electoral results, a partial legislature is seated, consisting of 92 newly-elected deputies and 24 senators. Races for 6 senators and 26 deputies remain incomplete.

January 22, 2016: The second-round presidential and legislative elections are indefinitely called off. Second-place finisher Jude Celestin (LAPEH) had pledged to boycott the second-round and was joined by seven other opposition presidential candidates. This stance was supported by the vast majority of civil society organizations, including human rights groups, church leaders and eventually even the private sector business associations.

February 5, 2016: With Martelly’s term expiring on February 7 and no elected successor to take his place, an agreement is reached to form a transitional government. Senator Jocelerme Privert is soon after selected as interim president and given a mandate of 120 days. The deal dissipated tensions that had been rising due to concerns that Martelly would try to hold on to power. Armed paramilitaries had appeared in Port-au-Prince and clashed with Martelly opponents.

April 30, 2016: President Privert establishes an independent investigation commission to examine fraud claims and restore confidence in the electoral process before continuing with the vote. This decision is opposed by PHTK and its political allies – who are well represented in the recently-seated parliament – as well as many actors in the international community, including the European Union (EU) and the United States.

June 6, 2016: The independent commission recommends rerunning the first round presidential vote and a new electoral council announces new first-round elections scheduled for October 9, 2016. The EU observation team pulls out of the country and the US pulls funding from the election after the decision.

June 14, 2016: The interim president’s mandate expires, but parliament is unable to reach a quorum to either replace the leader or extend his term due to obstruction by the pro-PHTK bloc. Privert’s opponents refuse to recognize him as a legitimate leader and question each decision made by the interim authorities, accusing them of simply wanting to perpetuate themselves in power.

Oct 4-5, 2016: Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm, ravages the country – specifically the southern peninsula – just days before the new elections were set to take place. The election was once again postponed. One week before the scheduled October 9 vote, prospects for the vote were hopeful. Preparations were in place, electoral materials had arrived in country and were being prepared for distribution, new safeguards against fraud and abuse had been implemented and candidates had taken to the campaign trail.

Oct 14, 2016: Facing immense pressure from political actors to hold the election as soon as possible, the CEP issues a new electoral schedule calling for elections November 20. Electoral infrastructure, especially in the southern peninsula, is severely damaged with many voting centers being used as temporary shelters. The new date means that there will not be an elected president in office by February 7, as initially expected.

However with a dire humanitarian situation still raging in the southern peninsula, electoral infrastructure severely damaged and ongoing flooding in various parts of the country, skepticism remains high as to if a legitimate and free election is possible this weekend, or if it will be another blow to Haiti’s fragile democracy.

Up next, Haiti Election Primer, Part 2: The Parties, Parliament and the International Community

On October 10, less than a week after Hurricane Matthew ripped across Haiti, the United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $120 million. Ten days later, donors have failed to fill the need, contributing just over 20 percent of the funds deemed necessary. But whom is the money being raised for? What planning or coordination went in to the $120 million ask? Are donors right to be hesitant?

An analysis of UN Financial Tracking Service data shows that the vast majority of the funds raised are destined for UN agencies or large, international NGOs. Reading press releases, government statements and comments to the press, it would seem that many lessons have been learned after the devastating earthquake of 2010: the importance of coordinating with the government, of working with local institutions and organizations, of purchasing goods locally and of building long-term sustainability in to an emergency response.

But, as one Haitian government official posed it to me, “we all learned the lessons, but have we found a solution?” Based on the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) appeal, the answer is not yet.

Perhaps this should be of little surprise, the flash appeal is designed specifically to “fund United Nations aid activities” for the next three months, not to raise money for local organizations, the Haitian government or for long-term, sustainable projects.  But the analysis is nonetheless revealing.

Funding Destined for UN and Foreign NGOs

The appeal is largely based on individual projects from individual organizations, and does not appear to have been launched with input from the Haitian government. As can be seen below, the vast majority of funding is destined for UN agencies.

Table 1.

OCHA Appeal UN Agency 2

Looking at the above chart, one sees that 85 percent of the funding requested is for the UN’s own agencies and that, of the $28 million provided so far, 79 percent has gone to these same entities.

Of the remaining $17 million for other organizations, it is overwhelmingly allocated to large foreign NGOs such as CARE and Save the Children. Haitian organizations or institutions appear to have an extremely limited role in the appeal, if one at all.

Importance of Coordination and Long-Term Sustainability

There has also been an acknowledgement that more must be done to both coordinate with the Haitian government and the various actors on the ground and to focus earlier on in building long-term capacity. But the OCHA appeal does not have an emphasis on either.

Table 2.

OCHA Appeal Sector

As can be seen, about 50 percent of the total requirement is for the food security, nutrition and emergency agriculture sector. There is no doubt that agriculture production and food security are some of the largest concerns going forward, but most of these funds, $46 million, is for short-term food assistance through the World Food Program (WFP). On the other hand, just $9 million will go towards “restoration” of “rural productive capacity.” The WFP program has already received $7.4 million, while the restoration project has only received $800,000.

Again, this is not to say that emergency food assistance is not needed, but it must be a part of longer-term sustainable projects to rebuild agriculture capacity as well. The OCHA appeal, while focusing on emergency needs, could also raise funds for needed capacity building. Funds from donors and private individuals come mostly after a disaster, but if all the money raised simply goes to emergency needs, there is nothing left to build for the long term when donor funds will be even scarcer.

Coordination and support services, on the other hand, is only the target of 1.2 percent of the overall appeal. However, this appears to be one of the most significant bottle necks in the distribution of assistance right now in Haiti. The Haitian government has pledged to take the lead in coordinating the international and local response, but lacks the necessary capacity? or willingness from donors? to make that a reality. The OCHA appeal does attempt to raise funds to support the government’s coordination efforts, but only $193,000, and that would go through the UN Development Program. That project remains 0 percent funded as of now. In fact, despite the low targets for the sector, no funding has thus been channeled in to this important area.

On his visit to Haiti last week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed “disappointment” with donors, who had yet to commit funds. “I know there is some fatigue from certain countries, but the current situation, the current disaster that hit this country through Hurricane Matthew is beyond description,” he said.

“The United Nations stands by your side. We will mobilize all resources to help you,” Ban continued. Speaking yesterday directly to donor governments, Ban once again criticized the slow response, saying “We urgently need more resources.”

Provisional president of Haiti Jocelerme Privert struck a slightly different tone in his remarks with Ban last week: “There will always be hurricanes, there will always be catastrophes. We need concrete actions to mitigate the damage from the next hurricanes that have not hit yet,” he said.

Those are the types of actions that failed to materialize after the 2010 earthquake, and that do not appear to be addressed through this latest UN appeal for funds.  Everyone learned the lessons, but Haiti needs solutions.

*Flash Appeal funding data is as of October 21, 2016.

On October 10, less than a week after Hurricane Matthew ripped across Haiti, the United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $120 million. Ten days later, donors have failed to fill the need, contributing just over 20 percent of the funds deemed necessary. But whom is the money being raised for? What planning or coordination went in to the $120 million ask? Are donors right to be hesitant?

An analysis of UN Financial Tracking Service data shows that the vast majority of the funds raised are destined for UN agencies or large, international NGOs. Reading press releases, government statements and comments to the press, it would seem that many lessons have been learned after the devastating earthquake of 2010: the importance of coordinating with the government, of working with local institutions and organizations, of purchasing goods locally and of building long-term sustainability in to an emergency response.

But, as one Haitian government official posed it to me, “we all learned the lessons, but have we found a solution?” Based on the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) appeal, the answer is not yet.

Perhaps this should be of little surprise, the flash appeal is designed specifically to “fund United Nations aid activities” for the next three months, not to raise money for local organizations, the Haitian government or for long-term, sustainable projects.  But the analysis is nonetheless revealing.

Funding Destined for UN and Foreign NGOs

The appeal is largely based on individual projects from individual organizations, and does not appear to have been launched with input from the Haitian government. As can be seen below, the vast majority of funding is destined for UN agencies.

Table 1.

OCHA Appeal UN Agency 2

Looking at the above chart, one sees that 85 percent of the funding requested is for the UN’s own agencies and that, of the $28 million provided so far, 79 percent has gone to these same entities.

Of the remaining $17 million for other organizations, it is overwhelmingly allocated to large foreign NGOs such as CARE and Save the Children. Haitian organizations or institutions appear to have an extremely limited role in the appeal, if one at all.

Importance of Coordination and Long-Term Sustainability

There has also been an acknowledgement that more must be done to both coordinate with the Haitian government and the various actors on the ground and to focus earlier on in building long-term capacity. But the OCHA appeal does not have an emphasis on either.

Table 2.

OCHA Appeal Sector

As can be seen, about 50 percent of the total requirement is for the food security, nutrition and emergency agriculture sector. There is no doubt that agriculture production and food security are some of the largest concerns going forward, but most of these funds, $46 million, is for short-term food assistance through the World Food Program (WFP). On the other hand, just $9 million will go towards “restoration” of “rural productive capacity.” The WFP program has already received $7.4 million, while the restoration project has only received $800,000.

Again, this is not to say that emergency food assistance is not needed, but it must be a part of longer-term sustainable projects to rebuild agriculture capacity as well. The OCHA appeal, while focusing on emergency needs, could also raise funds for needed capacity building. Funds from donors and private individuals come mostly after a disaster, but if all the money raised simply goes to emergency needs, there is nothing left to build for the long term when donor funds will be even scarcer.

Coordination and support services, on the other hand, is only the target of 1.2 percent of the overall appeal. However, this appears to be one of the most significant bottle necks in the distribution of assistance right now in Haiti. The Haitian government has pledged to take the lead in coordinating the international and local response, but lacks the necessary capacity? or willingness from donors? to make that a reality. The OCHA appeal does attempt to raise funds to support the government’s coordination efforts, but only $193,000, and that would go through the UN Development Program. That project remains 0 percent funded as of now. In fact, despite the low targets for the sector, no funding has thus been channeled in to this important area.

On his visit to Haiti last week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed “disappointment” with donors, who had yet to commit funds. “I know there is some fatigue from certain countries, but the current situation, the current disaster that hit this country through Hurricane Matthew is beyond description,” he said.

“The United Nations stands by your side. We will mobilize all resources to help you,” Ban continued. Speaking yesterday directly to donor governments, Ban once again criticized the slow response, saying “We urgently need more resources.”

Provisional president of Haiti Jocelerme Privert struck a slightly different tone in his remarks with Ban last week: “There will always be hurricanes, there will always be catastrophes. We need concrete actions to mitigate the damage from the next hurricanes that have not hit yet,” he said.

Those are the types of actions that failed to materialize after the 2010 earthquake, and that do not appear to be addressed through this latest UN appeal for funds.  Everyone learned the lessons, but Haiti needs solutions.

*Flash Appeal funding data is as of October 21, 2016.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti ? Under the leadership of an interim government since February, Haiti will now wait a little longer to elect a president after Hurricane Matthew struck the island, with 130 mile-per-hour winds and up to two feet of rain last week. Elections scheduled for October 9 have been put on hold, with Haiti’s provision electoral council (CEP) expected to announce a new date on Friday.

As the scale of the damage becomes clearer in Haiti’s rural Tiburon peninsula, where entire communities were left destroyed and under water, negotiations are ongoing in the relatively unscathed capital of Port-au-Prince, where political and economic power has long resided. Pressure is building on Haiti’s besieged interim president Jocelerme Privert to hold the elections in the coming weeks, but an internal assessment of electoral infrastructure obtained by Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch reveals massive damage to voting centers throughout the hardest-hit departments.

Some 30 percent of voting centers remained inaccessible in the most impacted areas according to the report compiled by the Organization of American States (OAS), while of those that were visited, 70 percent were rendered inoperable. The storm-ravaged departments are home to roughly one million of Haiti’s approximately 5.9 million registered voters. Across the country, meanwhile, the government estimates 1.4 million people to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

The CEP met with political parties Monday and has also met with representatives from the international community, Haitian civil society and the government this week. Mathias Pierre, a representative of Platfòm Pitit Dessalines, whose presidential candidate is former Senator Moïse Jean Charles, said that political parties had agreed on October 30 for the new date. But no official decision has been made, as the CEP continues to search for consensus.

According to multiple sources briefed on the situation, November 13 is the latest date where it would still be possible to maintain the existing electoral calendar and hand over of power in February. But it is unclear if even that will provide enough time to prepare, or satisfy the many political interests.

“If there are not elections by the end of October, we are ready to take to the street,” Roudy Chute, a representative from PHTK ? the party of former president Michel Martelly, whose candidate, Jovenel Moïse, came in first in last year’s discarded elections ? said in an interview earlier this week. “The people in power are not legitimate,” he continued. “They can’t negotiate with the international community.”

Senator Privert was selected to head an interim government in February 2016 when Martelly’s term expired after presidential elections in October 2015 were scrapped due to massive fraud and other irregularities. Given a 120-day mandate, Privert called for an investigation into the previous year’s elections. The commission recommended holding new presidential and partial legislative elections this October. The decision, however, was never fully accepted by political parties aligned with the former president, nor by some actors in the international community.

When Privert’s official mandate ended in June, a gridlocked parliament failed to act to either extend his term or replace him. Initiatives since then have faced stiff opposition; the government has been unable to adopt a budget. International donors also curtailed funding earlier this year.

In Jérémie, a coastal town in the Grand’Anse department where few structures remain intact after the storm, a local government official complained that aid from the government was not arriving fast enough, but then added, “How could it? It’s not a legitimate government.” But Privert has said the government is mobilizing what resources it can, telling reporters it has already spent some $400,000 and is working to coordinate various international actors to ensure the government remains in the lead of relief efforts and that goods are reaching those in need.

“Everyone agrees that the elections need to move forward and need to be completed, and that having a newly elected president in place will allow the government to deal [better] with the longer-term issues than having a provisional government in place,” US Ambassador Peter Mulrean told the Washington Post. But, he added, there must be a “balance between the political imperative to hold the elections as quickly as possible and what is technically feasible to run credible elections.”

Pierre Esperance of the National Human Rights Defense Network, whose organization observed last year’s elections, warned that it would be “impossible” to hold elections on October 30. In the three departments hardest hit it was unclear if the electoral apparatus would be ready, even by mid-November, he said. Looming in the future though is February 7, the constitutional date for a new ? elected ? president to take office. Terms for one-third of the Senate are also set to expire in early January.

The electoral infrastructure assessment obtained by HRRW raises significant questions as to whether the country can adequately prepare for elections in just a few short weeks, alongside a massive humanitarian response. In the South department, 112 of 157 voting centers were damaged and determined to be inoperable. In the Grand Anse and Nippes many voting centers remained inaccessible due to road blockages and flooding from the storm. Of those that could be visited, 88 percent and 54 percent, respectively, were damaged. The report added that impacted urban areas could also pose “security challenges.” Five Senate seats from these departments are to be decided in this election, as well as three seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

Still, the report stopped short of recommending a new date or estimating how long preparation might take. Rather, it urges electoral authorities, the government, and political parties to reach a consensus balancing political needs with voters’ access to the polls. Last year’s elections were plagued by low voter turnout and there is concern that rushing toward elections could further isolate rural areas that have long felt neglected by the so-called republic of Port-au-Prince.

With floodwaters sweeping away belongings, it is likely that many have lost identity cards necessary to vote. According to the government, some 175,000 people are still living in temporary shelters. The government has pledged to distribute new voter ID cards as fast as possible.  

Rony Desroches, who heads a local observer organization, OCID, that receives funding from the US government, said that while many voting centers were damaged, it would still be possible to meet the February 7 deadline. “The government has to repair the voting centers, most of them are schools, and children must go to school.” He added that the government “could channel the assistance towards that.”

Chute, the PHTK representative, alleged that the government wanted to delay elections so that “the people forget Jovenel [Moïse].” While the electoral body cut off official campaigning last Friday, presidential candidates have fanned out over the country, delivering aid supplies throughout the impacted regions. Many candidates have branded relief supplies with their political logos. “Absolutely, it is to contrast with the [Haitian] government” that is seen as absent from many rural areas, Chute said. Political ploy or not, a barge with supplies from private sector actors supporting PHTK arrived in Jérémie earlier this week and was expected to continue along the coast, delivering goods to remote coastal towns that have yet to be reached by aid efforts.

Many of the dump trucks removing debris in Jérémie bore the PHTK logo next to that of V&F, one of the largest Haitian construction companies. But PHTK is far from the only party to take such steps. Jude Célestin, another of the top candidates and a former head of the national construction company, has said he is willing to rebuild a crucial bridge that connects the south to the rest of the country, and that was destroyed. His LAPEH party logo was also seen on construction vehicles in Jérémie. Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the presidential candidate of the Fanmi Lavalas party, has led food distributions as well.  The CEP warned this week that political branding of supplies was a violation of the electoral decree, stating that assistance should be an act of “non-partisan solidarity.”

Residents in rural areas seem to have more immediate concerns than elections, after the storm destroyed upward of 90 percent of houses in some areas. On the road between Les Cayes and Jérémie, two of the larger cities that were hit, small villages have been left on their own. Throughout the mountainous pass, residents were seen picking up the pieces left behind by the hurricane, hammering old zinc sheeting back on to roofs, drying their belongings in the sun, and collecting what food they could from trees that were uprooted in the storm.

One group simply scoffed when asked about the elections. “We’re not even thinking about that now,” a middle-aged man responded. In Jérémie, local authorities raced to provide medical treatment and supplies to understaffed and damaged hospitals that have been left without electricity. Cholera treatment supplies from Doctors Without Borders were unloaded off a boat and raced to a newly set up treatment center. The cholera epidemic, introduced by UN troops in October 2010, is expected to increase sharply in the coming weeks and months after floodwater mixed with sewage inundated communities. In some rural areas, there have already been significant increases in caseloads, stretching already limited capacities.

Some actors have accused the international community of pushing for a delay of the election in order to support the “humanitarian business” of disaster relief. Haitians have long-held suspicions of international relief efforts, feeling, most recently after the earthquake in 2010, that much of the promised aid never actually reaches the ground.

“Certainly [the international community is] pressuring in that direction, but one notes that we cannot cope with the humanitarian situation with a provisional government,” Desroches commented. If communications were handled properly, stressing the need for a legitimate president to oversee assistance efforts, “it might encourage people to vote,” he said about the possibility of an even lower turnout.  

But there are also more simple concerns for parties pushing elections to be help rapidly; most are running out of money. After campaigning for much of the last two years, campaign funds are dwindling and private sector backers have been reluctant to provide additional resources.

A longer delay could also threaten Privert’s already tenuous hold on the government. An international official involved in the organization of elections believed the question of when to hold elections had become increasingly politicized. Opponents of the interim government could take advantage of the delay “to get rid of Privert,” the source added, making it more likely that every effort will be made to hold elections by November 13, in order to ensure the February 7 handover of power.

“We will strike in parliament, and we will strike in the street. There will be another crisis,” if elections are delayed too long, Chute said. “I’m pretty sure the international community doesn’t want that.” He noted that a longer delay would require a new political pact, and PHTK was not prepared to agree to that.

Speaking at the UN Security Council this week, the head of the UN mission that has been in Haiti for more than a decade, Sandra Honoré, said that the impact of the storm “on the political process and on stability in the country could only serve to reconfirm” the need for an extension of the troops’ mandate. A withdrawal had been expected after the elections.

Recent history shows how damaging a poorly organized election can be to long-term political stability. In November 2010, elections were held nine months after an earthquake killed hundreds of thousands and displaced over a million people. A month before the election, cholera was introduced and spread rapidly throughout the country and then, in early November, Hurricane Tomas swept across Haiti. Rather than delay the election, international backers and many in Haiti urged the process to continue at all costs.

The elections were plagued by such a high level of irregularities that it was statistically impossible to determine a winner. Instead of rerunning the elections, a US-backed mission from the OAS came to Haiti to analyze the vote and recommended an arbitrary change in the official results ? a recommendation backed by threats from Washington to cut desperately needed humanitarian relief funds. Michel Martelly was moved to the second round, which he won handily, but many political actors never recognized his legitimacy, and the parliament was barely functional over his five years in power. No elections were held for four years, and eventually the parliament’s terms expired. Martelly ruled by decree for his last year in office, eventually leading to the aborted elections of last year.

“The CEP needs to be very careful regarding the date because it is important to organize a good election,” Esperance said, warning that if they don’t go well it would provide a pretext for parties to contest the results. He recognized the importance of holding elections as soon as possible, but believed that further evaluation must be done by the CEP to determine how long it will take. “It looks like political interests are being put over the needs of the people,” he added.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti ? Under the leadership of an interim government since February, Haiti will now wait a little longer to elect a president after Hurricane Matthew struck the island, with 130 mile-per-hour winds and up to two feet of rain last week. Elections scheduled for October 9 have been put on hold, with Haiti’s provision electoral council (CEP) expected to announce a new date on Friday.

As the scale of the damage becomes clearer in Haiti’s rural Tiburon peninsula, where entire communities were left destroyed and under water, negotiations are ongoing in the relatively unscathed capital of Port-au-Prince, where political and economic power has long resided. Pressure is building on Haiti’s besieged interim president Jocelerme Privert to hold the elections in the coming weeks, but an internal assessment of electoral infrastructure obtained by Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch reveals massive damage to voting centers throughout the hardest-hit departments.

Some 30 percent of voting centers remained inaccessible in the most impacted areas according to the report compiled by the Organization of American States (OAS), while of those that were visited, 70 percent were rendered inoperable. The storm-ravaged departments are home to roughly one million of Haiti’s approximately 5.9 million registered voters. Across the country, meanwhile, the government estimates 1.4 million people to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

The CEP met with political parties Monday and has also met with representatives from the international community, Haitian civil society and the government this week. Mathias Pierre, a representative of Platfòm Pitit Dessalines, whose presidential candidate is former Senator Moïse Jean Charles, said that political parties had agreed on October 30 for the new date. But no official decision has been made, as the CEP continues to search for consensus.

According to multiple sources briefed on the situation, November 13 is the latest date where it would still be possible to maintain the existing electoral calendar and hand over of power in February. But it is unclear if even that will provide enough time to prepare, or satisfy the many political interests.

“If there are not elections by the end of October, we are ready to take to the street,” Roudy Chute, a representative from PHTK ? the party of former president Michel Martelly, whose candidate, Jovenel Moïse, came in first in last year’s discarded elections ? said in an interview earlier this week. “The people in power are not legitimate,” he continued. “They can’t negotiate with the international community.”

Senator Privert was selected to head an interim government in February 2016 when Martelly’s term expired after presidential elections in October 2015 were scrapped due to massive fraud and other irregularities. Given a 120-day mandate, Privert called for an investigation into the previous year’s elections. The commission recommended holding new presidential and partial legislative elections this October. The decision, however, was never fully accepted by political parties aligned with the former president, nor by some actors in the international community.

When Privert’s official mandate ended in June, a gridlocked parliament failed to act to either extend his term or replace him. Initiatives since then have faced stiff opposition; the government has been unable to adopt a budget. International donors also curtailed funding earlier this year.

In Jérémie, a coastal town in the Grand’Anse department where few structures remain intact after the storm, a local government official complained that aid from the government was not arriving fast enough, but then added, “How could it? It’s not a legitimate government.” But Privert has said the government is mobilizing what resources it can, telling reporters it has already spent some $400,000 and is working to coordinate various international actors to ensure the government remains in the lead of relief efforts and that goods are reaching those in need.

“Everyone agrees that the elections need to move forward and need to be completed, and that having a newly elected president in place will allow the government to deal [better] with the longer-term issues than having a provisional government in place,” US Ambassador Peter Mulrean told the Washington Post. But, he added, there must be a “balance between the political imperative to hold the elections as quickly as possible and what is technically feasible to run credible elections.”

Pierre Esperance of the National Human Rights Defense Network, whose organization observed last year’s elections, warned that it would be “impossible” to hold elections on October 30. In the three departments hardest hit it was unclear if the electoral apparatus would be ready, even by mid-November, he said. Looming in the future though is February 7, the constitutional date for a new ? elected ? president to take office. Terms for one-third of the Senate are also set to expire in early January.

The electoral infrastructure assessment obtained by HRRW raises significant questions as to whether the country can adequately prepare for elections in just a few short weeks, alongside a massive humanitarian response. In the South department, 112 of 157 voting centers were damaged and determined to be inoperable. In the Grand Anse and Nippes many voting centers remained inaccessible due to road blockages and flooding from the storm. Of those that could be visited, 88 percent and 54 percent, respectively, were damaged. The report added that impacted urban areas could also pose “security challenges.” Five Senate seats from these departments are to be decided in this election, as well as three seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

Still, the report stopped short of recommending a new date or estimating how long preparation might take. Rather, it urges electoral authorities, the government, and political parties to reach a consensus balancing political needs with voters’ access to the polls. Last year’s elections were plagued by low voter turnout and there is concern that rushing toward elections could further isolate rural areas that have long felt neglected by the so-called republic of Port-au-Prince.

With floodwaters sweeping away belongings, it is likely that many have lost identity cards necessary to vote. According to the government, some 175,000 people are still living in temporary shelters. The government has pledged to distribute new voter ID cards as fast as possible.  

Rony Desroches, who heads a local observer organization, OCID, that receives funding from the US government, said that while many voting centers were damaged, it would still be possible to meet the February 7 deadline. “The government has to repair the voting centers, most of them are schools, and children must go to school.” He added that the government “could channel the assistance towards that.”

Chute, the PHTK representative, alleged that the government wanted to delay elections so that “the people forget Jovenel [Moïse].” While the electoral body cut off official campaigning last Friday, presidential candidates have fanned out over the country, delivering aid supplies throughout the impacted regions. Many candidates have branded relief supplies with their political logos. “Absolutely, it is to contrast with the [Haitian] government” that is seen as absent from many rural areas, Chute said. Political ploy or not, a barge with supplies from private sector actors supporting PHTK arrived in Jérémie earlier this week and was expected to continue along the coast, delivering goods to remote coastal towns that have yet to be reached by aid efforts.

Many of the dump trucks removing debris in Jérémie bore the PHTK logo next to that of V&F, one of the largest Haitian construction companies. But PHTK is far from the only party to take such steps. Jude Célestin, another of the top candidates and a former head of the national construction company, has said he is willing to rebuild a crucial bridge that connects the south to the rest of the country, and that was destroyed. His LAPEH party logo was also seen on construction vehicles in Jérémie. Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the presidential candidate of the Fanmi Lavalas party, has led food distributions as well.  The CEP warned this week that political branding of supplies was a violation of the electoral decree, stating that assistance should be an act of “non-partisan solidarity.”

Residents in rural areas seem to have more immediate concerns than elections, after the storm destroyed upward of 90 percent of houses in some areas. On the road between Les Cayes and Jérémie, two of the larger cities that were hit, small villages have been left on their own. Throughout the mountainous pass, residents were seen picking up the pieces left behind by the hurricane, hammering old zinc sheeting back on to roofs, drying their belongings in the sun, and collecting what food they could from trees that were uprooted in the storm.

One group simply scoffed when asked about the elections. “We’re not even thinking about that now,” a middle-aged man responded. In Jérémie, local authorities raced to provide medical treatment and supplies to understaffed and damaged hospitals that have been left without electricity. Cholera treatment supplies from Doctors Without Borders were unloaded off a boat and raced to a newly set up treatment center. The cholera epidemic, introduced by UN troops in October 2010, is expected to increase sharply in the coming weeks and months after floodwater mixed with sewage inundated communities. In some rural areas, there have already been significant increases in caseloads, stretching already limited capacities.

Some actors have accused the international community of pushing for a delay of the election in order to support the “humanitarian business” of disaster relief. Haitians have long-held suspicions of international relief efforts, feeling, most recently after the earthquake in 2010, that much of the promised aid never actually reaches the ground.

“Certainly [the international community is] pressuring in that direction, but one notes that we cannot cope with the humanitarian situation with a provisional government,” Desroches commented. If communications were handled properly, stressing the need for a legitimate president to oversee assistance efforts, “it might encourage people to vote,” he said about the possibility of an even lower turnout.  

But there are also more simple concerns for parties pushing elections to be help rapidly; most are running out of money. After campaigning for much of the last two years, campaign funds are dwindling and private sector backers have been reluctant to provide additional resources.

A longer delay could also threaten Privert’s already tenuous hold on the government. An international official involved in the organization of elections believed the question of when to hold elections had become increasingly politicized. Opponents of the interim government could take advantage of the delay “to get rid of Privert,” the source added, making it more likely that every effort will be made to hold elections by November 13, in order to ensure the February 7 handover of power.

“We will strike in parliament, and we will strike in the street. There will be another crisis,” if elections are delayed too long, Chute said. “I’m pretty sure the international community doesn’t want that.” He noted that a longer delay would require a new political pact, and PHTK was not prepared to agree to that.

Speaking at the UN Security Council this week, the head of the UN mission that has been in Haiti for more than a decade, Sandra Honoré, said that the impact of the storm “on the political process and on stability in the country could only serve to reconfirm” the need for an extension of the troops’ mandate. A withdrawal had been expected after the elections.

Recent history shows how damaging a poorly organized election can be to long-term political stability. In November 2010, elections were held nine months after an earthquake killed hundreds of thousands and displaced over a million people. A month before the election, cholera was introduced and spread rapidly throughout the country and then, in early November, Hurricane Tomas swept across Haiti. Rather than delay the election, international backers and many in Haiti urged the process to continue at all costs.

The elections were plagued by such a high level of irregularities that it was statistically impossible to determine a winner. Instead of rerunning the elections, a US-backed mission from the OAS came to Haiti to analyze the vote and recommended an arbitrary change in the official results ? a recommendation backed by threats from Washington to cut desperately needed humanitarian relief funds. Michel Martelly was moved to the second round, which he won handily, but many political actors never recognized his legitimacy, and the parliament was barely functional over his five years in power. No elections were held for four years, and eventually the parliament’s terms expired. Martelly ruled by decree for his last year in office, eventually leading to the aborted elections of last year.

“The CEP needs to be very careful regarding the date because it is important to organize a good election,” Esperance said, warning that if they don’t go well it would provide a pretext for parties to contest the results. He recognized the importance of holding elections as soon as possible, but believed that further evaluation must be done by the CEP to determine how long it will take. “It looks like political interests are being put over the needs of the people,” he added.

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“The situation cannot afford Washington to sit on sidelines. They elected him and they need [sic] pressure him. He can’t go unchecked,” Laura Graham, then the Chief Operating Officer of the Clinton Foundation, wrote to Bill Clinton in early 2012. Graham was referring to the increasingly erratic, and potentially dangerous, behavior of Haitian president Michel Martelly. When she said “They elected him,” she was referring to the US government, which intervened through the OAS to change the election results of the first round of Haiti, putting Martelly in to the second round. The e-mail, one of many Graham sent to Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff on February 26, 2012, eventually was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aide, Cheryl Mills. The note is perhaps the clearest evidence to date that key officials, even within the Clinton camp, viewed the US intervention in the 2010 Haitian election as decisive.

The 2010 Haitian election was a mess. Held less than a year after a devastating earthquake, millions of people were displaced or otherwise disenfranchised and then-president René Préval was accused of fraud on behalf of his preferred candidate Jude Célestin. A majority of candidates held an afternoon press conference on election day denouncing the process and calling for new elections. But Washington and its allies, who had funded the election, pushed forward, telling the press that everything was okay. Mirlande Manigat, a constitutional law professor and former first lady, and Célestin came in first and second, respectively, according to preliminary results, putting them into a scheduled run-off. Martelly was in third, a few thousand votes behind.

Protests engulfed the capital and other major cities, threatening the political stability that donors have long desired, but have failed to nurture. With billions in foreign aid on the table and Bill Clinton overseeing an international effort at “building back better,” there was a lot on the line: both money and credibility.

With Martelly’s supporters leading large, and at times violent, protests, the US turned up the heat by publicly questioning the results just hours after they were announced. Within 24 hours, top State Department officials were already discussing with Haitian private sector groups plans to force Célestin out of the race. “[P]rivate sector have told RP [René Préval] that Célestin should withdraw … This is big,” then US Ambassador to Haiti Ken Merten wrote the next day. Merten wrote that he had personally contacted Martelly’s “camp” and told them that he needs to “get on radio telling people to not pillage. Peaceful demo OK: pillage is not.” Unfortunately, much of Merten’s message and those in response have been redacted.

The Haitian government eventually requested that a mission from the Organization of American States (OAS) come to Haiti to analyze the results. The mission, despite not conducting a recount or any statistical test, recommended replacing Célestin in the runoff with Martelly.  With the lowest turnout for a presidential election in the hemisphere’s recent history, and at least 12 percent of the votes simply missing, any decision on who should be in a second round would be based on faulty assumptions. (CEPR analyzed all the voter tally sheets at the time, conducting a statistical analysis of the vote, and later showed how the OAS recommendation could not be supported by any statistical evidence.)

Nevertheless, pressure began to mount on the Haitian government to accept the OAS recommendations. Officials had their US visas revoked and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice even went so far as to threaten to cut aid, even though the country was still recovering from the devastating earthquake earlier in the year.

In late January 2011, two months after the elections, but before any decision had been made, Laura Graham wrote to top Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, warning that her boss, Bill Clinton [wjc] would be very upset if certain visas were pulled:

There are rumors abt ur second visa list and jmb [Prime Minister and co-chair of the Clinton-led reconstruction commission, Jean Max Bellerive] being on it. He’s a conflicted guy and is being pressured on both sides and we believe trying to help. Wjc will be v unhappy if that’s the case. Nor do I think u need remove his visa. Not sure what it gets u. Remove elizabeth’s [Préval’s wife] and prevals people. I’m also staying at his house fyi so exposure in general and this weekend in particular for wjc on this.

In response, Mills questioned the “message it sends” for Graham to stay at Bellerive’s house, but Graham replied, indicating a certain coordination between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department in influencing Haitian politics: “For the record, I discussed staying at his house w both u and wjc long ago and was told good strategic value and ive [sic] stayed there every time.”

But being at Bellerive’s house, with a decision on the election coming any day, would send an inappropriate signal, Mills pointed out. “Think of all the rumors you have heard?” Mills asked, “that we want to pressure Célestin out when that is Brazilian and UN position,” she added as an example. There is no doubt that high-level Brazilian and UN officials were involved in the decision and efforts to exclude Célestin. Edmond Mulet, the head of the UN military mission in Haiti, even privately suggested flying Préval out of the country on election day. But it was the US that funded the OAS mission and that had been applying the most pressure on the Haitian government, and another e-mail from Graham to Mills a few days later confirms this.

I think you need to consider a message and outreach strategy to ensure that different elements of haitian society (church leaders, business, etc) buy into the mms solution and are out their [sic] on radio messaging why its [sic] good.

The “mms solution” here likely refers to the presence of Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly being placed in the second round over Célestin, the scenario State Department officials and Haitian private sector groups had been discussing since the day after results were announced. “Seems to me IC [international community] needs a complimentary message-outreach strategy to support this solution,” Graham added, noting that the US government was being made out as a “villain.”

A week earlier, a separate e-mail reveals, the Haitian government had proposed cancelling the elections, as many had been calling for, and running new ones, but the plan was rejected by the EU and US. The international actors opted instead for the arbitrary removal of Célestin and moving forward with the “MMs,” two rightist political candidates who would support the “Haiti is open for business” slogan that emerged after the quake.  

The e-mail from Graham came just days before Hillary Clinton would fly to Haiti, in the middle of the crisis in Egypt, to force the government’s hand. Mills forwarded Graham’s message to Hillary Clinton, with a note, “Let’s discuss this on the plane,” to which Hillary responded simply: “Bill talked to me about this and is quite worried about what I do and say tomorrow.”

“As we all are,” Mills responded, passing along talking points for the following day’s Haiti trip. “Ask him if he has any thoughts,” Mills wrote, in reference to Bill Clinton.

The next day Hillary Clinton traveled to Haiti and met with Préval. “We tried to resist and did, until the visit of Hillary Clinton. That was when Préval understood he had no way out and accepted” it, Bellerive told me in an interview last year. Martelly won in the second round, in which just over 20 percent of the electorate voted.

But the hoped-for political stability wouldn’t come so easy. After Martelly’s first two choices for prime minister failed to pass parliament, Garry Conille, who had previously served as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff when Clinton was UN Special Envoy to Haiti, became prime minister in September 2011. E-mails reveal that Graham had been vetting potential prime minister picks as early as June 2011 and had suggested Conille. E-mails show State Department staff helped to sway parliamentarians on Conille, who was expected to be the partner that the international community needed in the Haitian government to help oversee the massive reconstruction underway. But it didn’t work out that way.

After just five months on the job, Conille resigned on February 24, 2012. Two days later, Laura Graham wrote to Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Jon Davidson. In the e-mail, written while she said she was with Conille, Graham expressed extreme frustration with Martelly and pointed the finger clearly at him for the resignation of Conille, who had begun investigating a number of high-profile reconstruction contracts involving Dominican firms. Graham also warned that the US must step up and act to rein in Martelly, or risk the consequences, urging Bill Clinton to “convince” the US government:

GC [Conille] believes that his resignation offers the IC [International Community] an opportunity to join in the chorus (media, business, civil society, parliament) of pressure on MM [Martelly]. He can no longer use GC as his obstacle. He has to act and show he’s for democracy or there needs to be consequences. Waiting for this truck wo brakes to hit the bottom of the hill will be too late. You can be helpful in convincing USG and the IC.

Graham continued, suggesting Bill Clinton go forward with his investor trip to Haiti, but also use the time to pressure Martelly. Graham was also concerned that the State Department was going too easy on their new friend Martelly, whom they had helped elect:

The US has to push here and I believe some at state, definitely Merten [US Ambassador], are advising a wait and see attitude. The situation cannot afford Washington to sit on sidelines. They elected him and they need [sic] pressure him. He can’t go unchecked. Same thing with UN. Mariano Fernandez [Top UN military official at the time] needs to act more like “mulet” [UN official who helped oust Célestin] than the quiet peaceful guy he is. 

Graham, having been in close communication with Mills and other high-level State Department staff, as well as Bill Clinton, who, as the e-mails clearly indicate, was kept well informed, was certainly in a position to know just how influential the US intervention in the 2010 election was. “They elected him,” is as clear as it gets, though given previous e-mails, perhaps it would have been more accurate to say “We elected him.” But it’s clear that forcing her colleague Conille to resign had pushed Graham.

“MM [Martelly] wants GC [Conille] to leave the country,” she began another email later that same evening. Conille’s “life has and continues to be threatened by people associated with” Martelly, Graham added, and that Martelly “said himself he will do all it takes to take” Conille down. Once again, Graham questioned Merten’s stance regarding Martelly:

The US – Cheryl [Mills] – promised him American backed security immediately but when he met with Merten yesterday Merten was not only in the mind frame of “well MM is not such a bad guy and he’s better than previous presidents” but he didn’t discuss or offer any security. Every day, GC life and reputation are at risk. The US and or the IC must go to MM and tell him that nothing is to happen to GC, not even a tree accidentally falling on him, or MM will face consequences.

A few minutes later Graham writes again, warning of Martelly’s efforts to form armed militias throughout the country:

I now have seen the actual intel from MINUSTAH [UN military contingent] and the evidence of the armed militia training throughout the country including evidence that the palace is funding and supporting it. I’m meeting with Mariano Fernandez tomorrow but GC shared with me this intel last night and its obvious from the documents and the pictures what is going on here.

“The evidence is clear as day and they have already begun parading in the streets with guns and chanting in carrefour (less than 1 hour from PaP [Port-au-Prince]) and other areas of the country,” Graham adds.

Finally, an hour later, Graham sends the last e-mail after viewing Conille’s preliminary audit, which “details the amount of corruption and the arrogance in they [sic] way they did it.” Graham continues:

It is the contracts that MM is saying he will come after GC with everything he’s got to prevent the real details (presumably including his take) from coming out.

The next day, Oscar Flores, a long-time Clinton aide, forwards all of the messages to Mills and Hillary Clinton. “Pls print,” Clinton responds.

But despite Graham’s concerns and the apparent evidence of corruption and armed militias, the US continued to stand by the Martelly administration. His term ended in February 2016, and Graham’s e-mail on Martelly’s lack of democratic credentials now reads especially prescient. After no elections were held during his first four years in office, Martelly began ruling by decree in January 2015. Presidential elections, held last fall, were so marred by fraud and irregularities that they were entirely scrapped (unlike the controversial elections in 2010), leaving Haiti without a democratically elected president. Once again, the US argued for accepting the flawed elections and moving forward with a second round, this time between Martelly’s hand-picked successor and an old friend from 2010, Jude Célestin. But this time, the US didn’t get their way ? entirely new elections are scheduled for this October.

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“The situation cannot afford Washington to sit on sidelines. They elected him and they need [sic] pressure him. He can’t go unchecked,” Laura Graham, then the Chief Operating Officer of the Clinton Foundation, wrote to Bill Clinton in early 2012. Graham was referring to the increasingly erratic, and potentially dangerous, behavior of Haitian president Michel Martelly. When she said “They elected him,” she was referring to the US government, which intervened through the OAS to change the election results of the first round of Haiti, putting Martelly in to the second round. The e-mail, one of many Graham sent to Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff on February 26, 2012, eventually was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aide, Cheryl Mills. The note is perhaps the clearest evidence to date that key officials, even within the Clinton camp, viewed the US intervention in the 2010 Haitian election as decisive.

The 2010 Haitian election was a mess. Held less than a year after a devastating earthquake, millions of people were displaced or otherwise disenfranchised and then-president René Préval was accused of fraud on behalf of his preferred candidate Jude Célestin. A majority of candidates held an afternoon press conference on election day denouncing the process and calling for new elections. But Washington and its allies, who had funded the election, pushed forward, telling the press that everything was okay. Mirlande Manigat, a constitutional law professor and former first lady, and Célestin came in first and second, respectively, according to preliminary results, putting them into a scheduled run-off. Martelly was in third, a few thousand votes behind.

Protests engulfed the capital and other major cities, threatening the political stability that donors have long desired, but have failed to nurture. With billions in foreign aid on the table and Bill Clinton overseeing an international effort at “building back better,” there was a lot on the line: both money and credibility.

With Martelly’s supporters leading large, and at times violent, protests, the US turned up the heat by publicly questioning the results just hours after they were announced. Within 24 hours, top State Department officials were already discussing with Haitian private sector groups plans to force Célestin out of the race. “[P]rivate sector have told RP [René Préval] that Célestin should withdraw … This is big,” then US Ambassador to Haiti Ken Merten wrote the next day. Merten wrote that he had personally contacted Martelly’s “camp” and told them that he needs to “get on radio telling people to not pillage. Peaceful demo OK: pillage is not.” Unfortunately, much of Merten’s message and those in response have been redacted.

The Haitian government eventually requested that a mission from the Organization of American States (OAS) come to Haiti to analyze the results. The mission, despite not conducting a recount or any statistical test, recommended replacing Célestin in the runoff with Martelly.  With the lowest turnout for a presidential election in the hemisphere’s recent history, and at least 12 percent of the votes simply missing, any decision on who should be in a second round would be based on faulty assumptions. (CEPR analyzed all the voter tally sheets at the time, conducting a statistical analysis of the vote, and later showed how the OAS recommendation could not be supported by any statistical evidence.)

Nevertheless, pressure began to mount on the Haitian government to accept the OAS recommendations. Officials had their US visas revoked and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice even went so far as to threaten to cut aid, even though the country was still recovering from the devastating earthquake earlier in the year.

In late January 2011, two months after the elections, but before any decision had been made, Laura Graham wrote to top Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, warning that her boss, Bill Clinton [wjc] would be very upset if certain visas were pulled:

There are rumors abt ur second visa list and jmb [Prime Minister and co-chair of the Clinton-led reconstruction commission, Jean Max Bellerive] being on it. He’s a conflicted guy and is being pressured on both sides and we believe trying to help. Wjc will be v unhappy if that’s the case. Nor do I think u need remove his visa. Not sure what it gets u. Remove elizabeth’s [Préval’s wife] and prevals people. I’m also staying at his house fyi so exposure in general and this weekend in particular for wjc on this.

In response, Mills questioned the “message it sends” for Graham to stay at Bellerive’s house, but Graham replied, indicating a certain coordination between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department in influencing Haitian politics: “For the record, I discussed staying at his house w both u and wjc long ago and was told good strategic value and ive [sic] stayed there every time.”

But being at Bellerive’s house, with a decision on the election coming any day, would send an inappropriate signal, Mills pointed out. “Think of all the rumors you have heard?” Mills asked, “that we want to pressure Célestin out when that is Brazilian and UN position,” she added as an example. There is no doubt that high-level Brazilian and UN officials were involved in the decision and efforts to exclude Célestin. Edmond Mulet, the head of the UN military mission in Haiti, even privately suggested flying Préval out of the country on election day. But it was the US that funded the OAS mission and that had been applying the most pressure on the Haitian government, and another e-mail from Graham to Mills a few days later confirms this.

I think you need to consider a message and outreach strategy to ensure that different elements of haitian society (church leaders, business, etc) buy into the mms solution and are out their [sic] on radio messaging why its [sic] good.

The “mms solution” here likely refers to the presence of Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly being placed in the second round over Célestin, the scenario State Department officials and Haitian private sector groups had been discussing since the day after results were announced. “Seems to me IC [international community] needs a complimentary message-outreach strategy to support this solution,” Graham added, noting that the US government was being made out as a “villain.”

A week earlier, a separate e-mail reveals, the Haitian government had proposed cancelling the elections, as many had been calling for, and running new ones, but the plan was rejected by the EU and US. The international actors opted instead for the arbitrary removal of Célestin and moving forward with the “MMs,” two rightist political candidates who would support the “Haiti is open for business” slogan that emerged after the quake.  

The e-mail from Graham came just days before Hillary Clinton would fly to Haiti, in the middle of the crisis in Egypt, to force the government’s hand. Mills forwarded Graham’s message to Hillary Clinton, with a note, “Let’s discuss this on the plane,” to which Hillary responded simply: “Bill talked to me about this and is quite worried about what I do and say tomorrow.”

“As we all are,” Mills responded, passing along talking points for the following day’s Haiti trip. “Ask him if he has any thoughts,” Mills wrote, in reference to Bill Clinton.

The next day Hillary Clinton traveled to Haiti and met with Préval. “We tried to resist and did, until the visit of Hillary Clinton. That was when Préval understood he had no way out and accepted” it, Bellerive told me in an interview last year. Martelly won in the second round, in which just over 20 percent of the electorate voted.

But the hoped-for political stability wouldn’t come so easy. After Martelly’s first two choices for prime minister failed to pass parliament, Garry Conille, who had previously served as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff when Clinton was UN Special Envoy to Haiti, became prime minister in September 2011. E-mails reveal that Graham had been vetting potential prime minister picks as early as June 2011 and had suggested Conille. E-mails show State Department staff helped to sway parliamentarians on Conille, who was expected to be the partner that the international community needed in the Haitian government to help oversee the massive reconstruction underway. But it didn’t work out that way.

After just five months on the job, Conille resigned on February 24, 2012. Two days later, Laura Graham wrote to Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Jon Davidson. In the e-mail, written while she said she was with Conille, Graham expressed extreme frustration with Martelly and pointed the finger clearly at him for the resignation of Conille, who had begun investigating a number of high-profile reconstruction contracts involving Dominican firms. Graham also warned that the US must step up and act to rein in Martelly, or risk the consequences, urging Bill Clinton to “convince” the US government:

GC [Conille] believes that his resignation offers the IC [International Community] an opportunity to join in the chorus (media, business, civil society, parliament) of pressure on MM [Martelly]. He can no longer use GC as his obstacle. He has to act and show he’s for democracy or there needs to be consequences. Waiting for this truck wo brakes to hit the bottom of the hill will be too late. You can be helpful in convincing USG and the IC.

Graham continued, suggesting Bill Clinton go forward with his investor trip to Haiti, but also use the time to pressure Martelly. Graham was also concerned that the State Department was going too easy on their new friend Martelly, whom they had helped elect:

The US has to push here and I believe some at state, definitely Merten [US Ambassador], are advising a wait and see attitude. The situation cannot afford Washington to sit on sidelines. They elected him and they need [sic] pressure him. He can’t go unchecked. Same thing with UN. Mariano Fernandez [Top UN military official at the time] needs to act more like “mulet” [UN official who helped oust Célestin] than the quiet peaceful guy he is. 

Graham, having been in close communication with Mills and other high-level State Department staff, as well as Bill Clinton, who, as the e-mails clearly indicate, was kept well informed, was certainly in a position to know just how influential the US intervention in the 2010 election was. “They elected him,” is as clear as it gets, though given previous e-mails, perhaps it would have been more accurate to say “We elected him.” But it’s clear that forcing her colleague Conille to resign had pushed Graham.

“MM [Martelly] wants GC [Conille] to leave the country,” she began another email later that same evening. Conille’s “life has and continues to be threatened by people associated with” Martelly, Graham added, and that Martelly “said himself he will do all it takes to take” Conille down. Once again, Graham questioned Merten’s stance regarding Martelly:

The US – Cheryl [Mills] – promised him American backed security immediately but when he met with Merten yesterday Merten was not only in the mind frame of “well MM is not such a bad guy and he’s better than previous presidents” but he didn’t discuss or offer any security. Every day, GC life and reputation are at risk. The US and or the IC must go to MM and tell him that nothing is to happen to GC, not even a tree accidentally falling on him, or MM will face consequences.

A few minutes later Graham writes again, warning of Martelly’s efforts to form armed militias throughout the country:

I now have seen the actual intel from MINUSTAH [UN military contingent] and the evidence of the armed militia training throughout the country including evidence that the palace is funding and supporting it. I’m meeting with Mariano Fernandez tomorrow but GC shared with me this intel last night and its obvious from the documents and the pictures what is going on here.

“The evidence is clear as day and they have already begun parading in the streets with guns and chanting in carrefour (less than 1 hour from PaP [Port-au-Prince]) and other areas of the country,” Graham adds.

Finally, an hour later, Graham sends the last e-mail after viewing Conille’s preliminary audit, which “details the amount of corruption and the arrogance in they [sic] way they did it.” Graham continues:

It is the contracts that MM is saying he will come after GC with everything he’s got to prevent the real details (presumably including his take) from coming out.

The next day, Oscar Flores, a long-time Clinton aide, forwards all of the messages to Mills and Hillary Clinton. “Pls print,” Clinton responds.

But despite Graham’s concerns and the apparent evidence of corruption and armed militias, the US continued to stand by the Martelly administration. His term ended in February 2016, and Graham’s e-mail on Martelly’s lack of democratic credentials now reads especially prescient. After no elections were held during his first four years in office, Martelly began ruling by decree in January 2015. Presidential elections, held last fall, were so marred by fraud and irregularities that they were entirely scrapped (unlike the controversial elections in 2010), leaving Haiti without a democratically elected president. Once again, the US argued for accepting the flawed elections and moving forward with a second round, this time between Martelly’s hand-picked successor and an old friend from 2010, Jude Célestin. But this time, the US didn’t get their way ? entirely new elections are scheduled for this October.

Dismayed by the decision to rerun controversial and fraud-plagued presidential elections, the US State Department announced on Thursday a suspension of electoral assistance to Haiti. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the decision was communicated to Haitian authorities last week, noting that the US “has provided over $30 million in assistance” for elections and that the move would allow the US “to maintain priority assistance” for ongoing projects.

Kirby added that “I don’t have a dollar figure in terms of this because it wasn’t funded, it wasn’t budgeted.” However multiple sources have confirmed that the U.S has withdrawn nearly $2 million already in a United Nations controlled fund for elections. Donor governments, as well as the Haitian state, had contributed to the fund. Prior to the US move, $8.2 million remained for elections.

The pulling of funds indicates the growing displeasure with Haitian authorities’ decision to rerun last year’s presidential elections.

“We’ve made no bones about the fact that we had concerns about the way the process was unfolding,” Kirby told reporters on Thursday. During a July 4 address, US Ambassador to Haiti Peter Mulrean was even clearer: “We had difficulty understanding the decision … to start the presidential election from scratch.”

According to University of Virginia professor Robert Fatton, the withdrawal may be the “typical punishment” for “feeling insulted by the decisions taken by the people in its so-called ‘backyard.’”

“We believe it’s the sound thing to do, the right thing to do, for the people of Haiti in the long term,” Kirby said about the suspension. The Haitian government and electoral authorities have previously indicated a desire to fund elections from its own coffers. 

“We already made ourselves clear: Haiti will make all effort to find the $55 million to do the elections,” presidential spokesman Serge Simon told the Miami Herald. “If no one comes to our assistance we will manage because the priority for us is the elections,” he added.

“Haiti organizing its own elections with its own funds is a very good thing,” Fatton said. While noting that it would not guarantee a cleaner election, Fatton continued “This new reality may finally compel Haitians to blame or congratulate themselves for the outcome, and it represents a small but important step in the country’s recovery of a modicum of its national sovereignty.”

Second-round presidential elections, scheduled for January, were scrapped amid allegations of fraud and increasing street protests. The handpicked successor to former president Michel Martelly had placed first, according to the since discarded results. The US, European Union, United Nations and other donors that make up the “Core Group” in Haiti all endorsed the results as credible.

With no president-elect waiting, Martelly stepped down when his term ended in February. The legislature elected a provisional president from the political opposition – Senator Jocelerme Privert.

Privert, with the strong backing of civil society organizations, local elections observers and a wide swath of the political spectrum, created a verification commission to audit the previous election. The five-member panel found evidence of “zombie votes” — representing hundreds of thousands of votes — as well as widespread irregularities and recommended tossing the results. Haiti’s electoral council, heeding the recommendations, scheduled new presidential elections for October.

European Union election observers, disagreeing vehemently with the decision, pulled out of the country. The Organization of American States (OAS), after initially backing the results, pledged to respect the Haitian-led verification process and new electoral calendar. However the US suspension of electoral assistance may impact the OAS’ ability to continue monitoring the electoral process.

The US provided $1 million to the OAS for its electoral observation mission last year.

Some have expressed concern that the US suspension of assistance could have greater ramifications for the electoral process. “The fact that the US is pulling $2 million from the ‘election basket’ may be a sign that it is prepared to delegitimize the forthcoming elections if the results do not coincide with its interests,” Fatton said.

Asked prior to the announcement if the US was concerned that the withdrawal of funds could undermine the legitimacy of the elections, State Department Public Affairs Officer Joseph Crook did not immediately respond, later pointing to the Thursday press briefing. Kirby repeated that “these are decisions that [Haitian leaders] have to make, and we want to continue to urge them to make the right ones.” The State Department once again pointed to the press briefing when asked if they were discussing with other donor countries the possibility of pulling election funding.

The United Nations and “Core Group” countries previously warned that the decision to rerun elections and extend the electoral process could have implications for bilateral assistance. Organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, have stated that the ongoing electoral process would impact new funding decisions.

The suspension of US assistance could also have more immediate political ramifications in Haiti.  Provisional president Privert, initially given a 120-day mandate that expired in June, is awaiting a decision from parliament on whether he will be able to stay on until new elections are held or if a new interim leader will replace him. Though Privert seems to have majority support in parliament, certain members from the minority have maneuvered to block quorum and prevent a vote from taking place.

Martelly’s political party and its allies argue that Privert lacks legitimacy and must resign. The US decision will likely embolden those voices.  Any funds allocated from the Haitian state for the new elections would likely need to be approved by the parliament.

This week, the Washington DC-based Haiti Democracy Project brought two parliamentarians — both opposed to Privert — to the US for meetings with Congressional staff and US government representatives. The delegation is advocating for the holding of the scrapped second round election and the removal of Privert. James Morrell, the Executive Director of the Haiti Democracy Project, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Dismayed by the decision to rerun controversial and fraud-plagued presidential elections, the US State Department announced on Thursday a suspension of electoral assistance to Haiti. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the decision was communicated to Haitian authorities last week, noting that the US “has provided over $30 million in assistance” for elections and that the move would allow the US “to maintain priority assistance” for ongoing projects.

Kirby added that “I don’t have a dollar figure in terms of this because it wasn’t funded, it wasn’t budgeted.” However multiple sources have confirmed that the U.S has withdrawn nearly $2 million already in a United Nations controlled fund for elections. Donor governments, as well as the Haitian state, had contributed to the fund. Prior to the US move, $8.2 million remained for elections.

The pulling of funds indicates the growing displeasure with Haitian authorities’ decision to rerun last year’s presidential elections.

“We’ve made no bones about the fact that we had concerns about the way the process was unfolding,” Kirby told reporters on Thursday. During a July 4 address, US Ambassador to Haiti Peter Mulrean was even clearer: “We had difficulty understanding the decision … to start the presidential election from scratch.”

According to University of Virginia professor Robert Fatton, the withdrawal may be the “typical punishment” for “feeling insulted by the decisions taken by the people in its so-called ‘backyard.’”

“We believe it’s the sound thing to do, the right thing to do, for the people of Haiti in the long term,” Kirby said about the suspension. The Haitian government and electoral authorities have previously indicated a desire to fund elections from its own coffers. 

“We already made ourselves clear: Haiti will make all effort to find the $55 million to do the elections,” presidential spokesman Serge Simon told the Miami Herald. “If no one comes to our assistance we will manage because the priority for us is the elections,” he added.

“Haiti organizing its own elections with its own funds is a very good thing,” Fatton said. While noting that it would not guarantee a cleaner election, Fatton continued “This new reality may finally compel Haitians to blame or congratulate themselves for the outcome, and it represents a small but important step in the country’s recovery of a modicum of its national sovereignty.”

Second-round presidential elections, scheduled for January, were scrapped amid allegations of fraud and increasing street protests. The handpicked successor to former president Michel Martelly had placed first, according to the since discarded results. The US, European Union, United Nations and other donors that make up the “Core Group” in Haiti all endorsed the results as credible.

With no president-elect waiting, Martelly stepped down when his term ended in February. The legislature elected a provisional president from the political opposition – Senator Jocelerme Privert.

Privert, with the strong backing of civil society organizations, local elections observers and a wide swath of the political spectrum, created a verification commission to audit the previous election. The five-member panel found evidence of “zombie votes” — representing hundreds of thousands of votes — as well as widespread irregularities and recommended tossing the results. Haiti’s electoral council, heeding the recommendations, scheduled new presidential elections for October.

European Union election observers, disagreeing vehemently with the decision, pulled out of the country. The Organization of American States (OAS), after initially backing the results, pledged to respect the Haitian-led verification process and new electoral calendar. However the US suspension of electoral assistance may impact the OAS’ ability to continue monitoring the electoral process.

The US provided $1 million to the OAS for its electoral observation mission last year.

Some have expressed concern that the US suspension of assistance could have greater ramifications for the electoral process. “The fact that the US is pulling $2 million from the ‘election basket’ may be a sign that it is prepared to delegitimize the forthcoming elections if the results do not coincide with its interests,” Fatton said.

Asked prior to the announcement if the US was concerned that the withdrawal of funds could undermine the legitimacy of the elections, State Department Public Affairs Officer Joseph Crook did not immediately respond, later pointing to the Thursday press briefing. Kirby repeated that “these are decisions that [Haitian leaders] have to make, and we want to continue to urge them to make the right ones.” The State Department once again pointed to the press briefing when asked if they were discussing with other donor countries the possibility of pulling election funding.

The United Nations and “Core Group” countries previously warned that the decision to rerun elections and extend the electoral process could have implications for bilateral assistance. Organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, have stated that the ongoing electoral process would impact new funding decisions.

The suspension of US assistance could also have more immediate political ramifications in Haiti.  Provisional president Privert, initially given a 120-day mandate that expired in June, is awaiting a decision from parliament on whether he will be able to stay on until new elections are held or if a new interim leader will replace him. Though Privert seems to have majority support in parliament, certain members from the minority have maneuvered to block quorum and prevent a vote from taking place.

Martelly’s political party and its allies argue that Privert lacks legitimacy and must resign. The US decision will likely embolden those voices.  Any funds allocated from the Haitian state for the new elections would likely need to be approved by the parliament.

This week, the Washington DC-based Haiti Democracy Project brought two parliamentarians — both opposed to Privert — to the US for meetings with Congressional staff and US government representatives. The delegation is advocating for the holding of the scrapped second round election and the removal of Privert. James Morrell, the Executive Director of the Haiti Democracy Project, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Days before the June 14 end of provisional president Jocelerme Privert’s mandate, a coalition of political parties close to former president Michel Martelly formalized an alliance and began advocating for Privert’s removal. Led by former de facto prime minister under Marelly, Evans Paul, the “Entente Democratique” (ED) or “democratic agreement” as they have called themselves, have denounced the “totalitarian tendencies” of Privert and categorized the possible extension of his mandate as an illegal power grab.

Haitian parliamentarians were expected to vote earlier this week on extending or replacing Privert, who was appointed provisional president in early February after Martelly’s term ended with no elected replacement. The vote was delayed, as it has been previously.  

The creation of ED has formalized an alliance between Martelly’s political movement, PHTK, and Guy Philippe, a notorious paramilitary leader who is running for a seat in the Senate. Philippe was the head of a paramilitary force that helped destabilize the country in the run-up to the 2004 coup against former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. From its bases in the Dominican Republic, the group mounted numerous attacks targeting police stations and government supporters. According to Human Rights Watch, Philippe also oversaw extrajudicial killings while a police chief in the late 90s. Facing a sealed indictment in the U.S. for alleged drug trafficking ties and money laundering, Philippe remains a DEA most wanted fugitive.

Philippe appeared alongside Martelly’s chosen successor Jovenel Moïse at a December political rally and has voiced his support for Moïse’s candidacy in radio broadcasts, but the formal alliance is an indication that those ties are now deepening. Philippe, a former police chief who received training from U.S. military forces in Ecuador, found an ally in Martelly, who made the army’s restoration a central plank of his presidency and his party. The army was disbanded under Aristide after a long history of human rights abuses and involvement in coup d’états. “The army has always been a part of our policy…There is no way to have Haiti without an army,” Roudy Chute, a PHTK party representative, stated during an August interview.

In February, Philippe warned of a “civil war” if Privert did not hold elections in April. The political accord that brought Privert to office called for elections in April, but after an electoral verification commission recommended scrapping the entire first round due to fraud, new presidential elections have been scheduled for October.

Last month, Philippe was allegedly tied to a paramilitary attack on a police station in the rural town of Cayes that killed 6, though he has denied involvement and refused to appear for questioning. Philippe had previously been prevented from running for office due to his ties to drug trafficking, but certain regulations were removed last year, allowing a number of candidates with criminal pasts to register. In 2006 Philippe ran for president, garnering less than two percent of the vote.

A DEA spokesperson confirmed that Philippe remains a fugitive, adding that he has proven to be “very elusive,” and that U.S. Marshalls had been given apprehension authority. A spokesperson for the Marshalls contested this, saying the DEA has “solid information about the subject’s whereabouts,” so there was no need for them to transfer apprehension authority. The DEA later acknowledged its responsibility for apprehending Philippe, but would not confirm if any active efforts to do so were underway.

Though the DEA has been involved in a number of high profile arrests in Haiti during the last five years, Philippe remains free.

In the meantime, the ED has called for an uprising against Privert. In a June 12 letter, the group called on Haitian National Police director-general Michel Ange Gédéon to disobey “any illegal order coming from a person stripped of legality and legitimacy,” referring to Privert. The ED also called on the international community to withhold recognition of Privert’s government after June 14.

These calls have largely fallen on deaf ears. The international community has urged parliament to meet to decide Privert’s future and U.S. Haiti Special Coordinator Ken Merten offered a tepid recognition of Privert on a call with reporters last week. Anti-Privert protests planned for last week failed to materialize.

A former political advisor to Martelly, who requested anonymity, was critical of the ED, pointing out that “their own political ineptitude made [Privert] president.” They believe “international support for a second round…is all [Jovenel Moïse] needs, as if public opinion, or the ability of his detractors to ensure this does not happen, matters very little or not at all.” 

Pelegrín Castillo, a Dominican lawmaker with the Fuerza Nacional Progresista (FNP), claimed last week:  “In Haiti [groups] are arming in anticipation of an insurrectional conflict, around a well-known figure and the international organizations, and the United States in particular, know this.”

As the vote on Privert’s future looms, PHTK and its allies have indicated that elections may not be possible if Privert’s term is extended or if parliament fails to meet. An unstated but implicit part of the ED agenda has been reversing implementation of the verification commission recommendations. The U.S. and Spain have both expressed “regret” at the electoral council’s decision to rerun the first round and European Union election observers pulled out of the country after the electoral council’s decision.  

But in a move seen as giving legitimacy to the October election rerun, Moïse registered his candidacy yesterday with the electoral council.

After protests in January were held in opposition to the holding of second-round presidential elections because of allegations of fraud on behalf of the government, the U.S. called for those involved with “electoral intimidation and violence” to be held accountable. But the U.S. has been conspicuously silent on Philippe.

Asked if the U.S. had any reaction to Philippe’s candidacy and his comments about disrupting the electoral process given his status as a DEA fugitive, U.S. Special Coordinator Ken Merten responded, “Haiti’s authorities must hold its own citizens accountable for any kind of election-related intimidation, violence, or threat to the stability of the country.” He dismissed questions about Philippe likely taking a seat in the Senate as “hypothetical positing.”

The U.S. has been involved in at least two prior attempts to capture Philippe.  Some former Haitian government officials have, however, questioned the U.S. commitment to apprehending Philippe, describing the previous efforts involving helicopters and large shows of force as “theater.”

“If Philippe is in the Senate it will send a terrible signal,” one former Haitian government official said, requesting anonymity, “but Haiti cannot act. We don’t have the evidence; it’s all with the DEA.”

Days before the June 14 end of provisional president Jocelerme Privert’s mandate, a coalition of political parties close to former president Michel Martelly formalized an alliance and began advocating for Privert’s removal. Led by former de facto prime minister under Marelly, Evans Paul, the “Entente Democratique” (ED) or “democratic agreement” as they have called themselves, have denounced the “totalitarian tendencies” of Privert and categorized the possible extension of his mandate as an illegal power grab.

Haitian parliamentarians were expected to vote earlier this week on extending or replacing Privert, who was appointed provisional president in early February after Martelly’s term ended with no elected replacement. The vote was delayed, as it has been previously.  

The creation of ED has formalized an alliance between Martelly’s political movement, PHTK, and Guy Philippe, a notorious paramilitary leader who is running for a seat in the Senate. Philippe was the head of a paramilitary force that helped destabilize the country in the run-up to the 2004 coup against former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. From its bases in the Dominican Republic, the group mounted numerous attacks targeting police stations and government supporters. According to Human Rights Watch, Philippe also oversaw extrajudicial killings while a police chief in the late 90s. Facing a sealed indictment in the U.S. for alleged drug trafficking ties and money laundering, Philippe remains a DEA most wanted fugitive.

Philippe appeared alongside Martelly’s chosen successor Jovenel Moïse at a December political rally and has voiced his support for Moïse’s candidacy in radio broadcasts, but the formal alliance is an indication that those ties are now deepening. Philippe, a former police chief who received training from U.S. military forces in Ecuador, found an ally in Martelly, who made the army’s restoration a central plank of his presidency and his party. The army was disbanded under Aristide after a long history of human rights abuses and involvement in coup d’états. “The army has always been a part of our policy…There is no way to have Haiti without an army,” Roudy Chute, a PHTK party representative, stated during an August interview.

In February, Philippe warned of a “civil war” if Privert did not hold elections in April. The political accord that brought Privert to office called for elections in April, but after an electoral verification commission recommended scrapping the entire first round due to fraud, new presidential elections have been scheduled for October.

Last month, Philippe was allegedly tied to a paramilitary attack on a police station in the rural town of Cayes that killed 6, though he has denied involvement and refused to appear for questioning. Philippe had previously been prevented from running for office due to his ties to drug trafficking, but certain regulations were removed last year, allowing a number of candidates with criminal pasts to register. In 2006 Philippe ran for president, garnering less than two percent of the vote.

A DEA spokesperson confirmed that Philippe remains a fugitive, adding that he has proven to be “very elusive,” and that U.S. Marshalls had been given apprehension authority. A spokesperson for the Marshalls contested this, saying the DEA has “solid information about the subject’s whereabouts,” so there was no need for them to transfer apprehension authority. The DEA later acknowledged its responsibility for apprehending Philippe, but would not confirm if any active efforts to do so were underway.

Though the DEA has been involved in a number of high profile arrests in Haiti during the last five years, Philippe remains free.

In the meantime, the ED has called for an uprising against Privert. In a June 12 letter, the group called on Haitian National Police director-general Michel Ange Gédéon to disobey “any illegal order coming from a person stripped of legality and legitimacy,” referring to Privert. The ED also called on the international community to withhold recognition of Privert’s government after June 14.

These calls have largely fallen on deaf ears. The international community has urged parliament to meet to decide Privert’s future and U.S. Haiti Special Coordinator Ken Merten offered a tepid recognition of Privert on a call with reporters last week. Anti-Privert protests planned for last week failed to materialize.

A former political advisor to Martelly, who requested anonymity, was critical of the ED, pointing out that “their own political ineptitude made [Privert] president.” They believe “international support for a second round…is all [Jovenel Moïse] needs, as if public opinion, or the ability of his detractors to ensure this does not happen, matters very little or not at all.” 

Pelegrín Castillo, a Dominican lawmaker with the Fuerza Nacional Progresista (FNP), claimed last week:  “In Haiti [groups] are arming in anticipation of an insurrectional conflict, around a well-known figure and the international organizations, and the United States in particular, know this.”

As the vote on Privert’s future looms, PHTK and its allies have indicated that elections may not be possible if Privert’s term is extended or if parliament fails to meet. An unstated but implicit part of the ED agenda has been reversing implementation of the verification commission recommendations. The U.S. and Spain have both expressed “regret” at the electoral council’s decision to rerun the first round and European Union election observers pulled out of the country after the electoral council’s decision.  

But in a move seen as giving legitimacy to the October election rerun, Moïse registered his candidacy yesterday with the electoral council.

After protests in January were held in opposition to the holding of second-round presidential elections because of allegations of fraud on behalf of the government, the U.S. called for those involved with “electoral intimidation and violence” to be held accountable. But the U.S. has been conspicuously silent on Philippe.

Asked if the U.S. had any reaction to Philippe’s candidacy and his comments about disrupting the electoral process given his status as a DEA fugitive, U.S. Special Coordinator Ken Merten responded, “Haiti’s authorities must hold its own citizens accountable for any kind of election-related intimidation, violence, or threat to the stability of the country.” He dismissed questions about Philippe likely taking a seat in the Senate as “hypothetical positing.”

The U.S. has been involved in at least two prior attempts to capture Philippe.  Some former Haitian government officials have, however, questioned the U.S. commitment to apprehending Philippe, describing the previous efforts involving helicopters and large shows of force as “theater.”

“If Philippe is in the Senate it will send a terrible signal,” one former Haitian government official said, requesting anonymity, “but Haiti cannot act. We don’t have the evidence; it’s all with the DEA.”

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