Nov. 20 Elections Thrown Into Doubt

by Kim Ives
A letter from
Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to interim President Jocelerme
Privert suggests that the first round of do-over presidential elections as well
as several legislative run-offs might not take place on Nov. 20 as currently
            In the Oct. 27, 2016 letter, which
was obtained by the Haitian daily Le
, CEP chief Léopold Berlanger gives Privert’s government ten
days to repair 280 voting centers, make passable the roads leading to 161
others, and provide potentially tens of thousands of voter identification cards
to people who lost them due to Hurricane Matthew.
            About 40 of the would-be voting
centers – mostly schools – are being used to temporarily house people made
homeless when Hurricane Matthew passed over the tip of Haiti’s southern peninsula
on Oct. 4, devastating the geographic departments of the South, Grand-Anse, and
            At this writing (Nov. 1), five of
the ten days have already elapsed with Privert giving no public response.
However, a presidential spokesman, Eddy Jackson Alexis, told the Haitian Press
Agency (AHP) on Oct. 31 that the government is working on the problems.
            “There has emerged an urgent need
for the government to immediately and without delay during the next 10 days
take the following steps: a focused campaign of rapid rehabilitation necessary
to make functional 280 premises across the country to be used as polling
centers on Nov. 20, 2016 and Jan. 29, 2017,” Berlanger wrote. “Then there
should be consultation with the appropriate bodies such as mayors, delegates,
and vice delegates who will release about 40 establishments that are voting
centers now being used as temporary shelters.”
            “It is equally important that the
government make passable the roads that lead to 161 polling centers,” Berlanger
wrote, adding that the National Identification Office (ONI) had “to accelerate
its work of identifying voters who lost their CIN [national ID card] during the
passage of Hurricane Matthew, replacing them before Nov. 20.”
contacted by telephone CEP member Jean Simon Saint-Hubert who
confirmed that Berlanger’s letter had been sent to Privert, saying that “the
country cannot again miss the date of Nov. 20 to hold elections.” His professed
determination “does not prevent Jean Simon Saint-Hubert from having doubts,” Le Nouvelliste wrote.
            Mr. Alexis, the Presidential spokesman,
took issue with Mr. Saint-Hubert’s equivocation, saying: “This is an issue that
needs to be clarified when a member of the council that itself, let’s remember,
set the date of the election now has reservations as to its fulfillment.”
            It should be noted that the CEP had
not toured the wind-lashed, flooded southern peninsula before setting its new
electoral calendar.
            In what amounts to finger-pointing
between the CEP and Presidency, Mr. Alexis “reiterated the willingness of the
Executive to create favorable conditions for the organization of elections, as
scheduled by the CEP, including readying the logistical and economic resources
necessary to carry out the elections,” the AHP reported.
            Presidential elections were held on
Oct. 25, 2015, but an independent verification commission found them
fraudulent. A new CEP scheduled a re-do election for Oct. 9, 2016, but
Hurricane Matthew forced its postponement until Nov. 20, although most major
candidates wanted to reschedule for Oct. 30.

            In addition to the presidential
first-round, there will be run-offs for 16 Senate seats and 25 in the Chamber
of Deputies. Run-offs for the presidential contest and one Senate race are
planned for Jan. 29, 2017.