Legislative Elections Also Go to the PHTK and its Allies

by Catherine
Charlemagne (Haiti Liberte)

Humans, unlike
other animals, possess what philosophers call reason. Without entering into
philosophical analysis – that is not the purpose of this chronicle at this
point in the Haitian electoral process – it is now urgent that all people
endowed with this faculty use their common sense.

            Using reason, let’s examine the
final results of the Nov. 20, 2016 general elections, results which were
challenged by the three main presidential candidates and some candidates for
seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

            The presidential candidates – Dr.
Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas, Jude Célestin of LAPEH, and Moïse
Jean-Charles of the Pitit Dessalines Platform – began protesting even before
the results were published, giving a first round victory to their competitor,
Jovenel Moïse of the Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK). But there was not just
one election that day. There were also partial legislative elections (senators
and deputies) and municipal races.

            In principle, we should begin to
challenge when we have in our possession all the results. But in Haiti,
politicians live by different rules. They challenge first, then see what
happens later.

            Recent history encouraged adopting
this approach. A verification commission found that the 2015 presidential
elections were fraudulent. Therefore, in 2016, the three protesting
presidential candidates immediately suspected fraud.

            After the preliminary results were
released, the three runners-up brought the matter before the Electoral Courts.
They contended that there was massive fraud, resulting in an “electoral coup.”
They demanded proper verification, which is legitimate, otherwise their
competitor would win the election dishonestly.

            But in the meantime, the results of
other races were released. They revealed a spectacular sweep of legislative and
municipal elections by the PHTK and its allies.

            This made it more difficult for the
three protesting candidates to make their case, since the legislative results
seemed to confirm the results of the presidential election. But the Fanmi
Lavalas, Pitit Dessalines, and LAPEH could not now retreat. They had to defend
their position, as Moïse Jean-Charles was fond of saying, “until the bitter

            Almost everywhere, the candidates of
the PHTK and its allies won seats, apparently confirming that the few voters
who had their vote counted (less than 19% of the electorate) did indeed vote in
favor of Jovenel Moïse. The candidates of PHTK and its allies are also in the
lead for second round races. In some races, the second round will be between
two candidates of the same family, such as a PHTK versus KID, or Bouclier
versus PHTK or the Haiti in Action party (AAA) of Sen. Youri Latortue. The
candidates of Fanmi Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines are rare in the run-offs for
the final third of the Senate. LAPEH has none. What a strange surprise!

            In this electoral landscape, there
are several surprising cases. Take, for example, the Senate candidate for the
West Department, the PHTK’s Fednel Monchéry. This candidate who was ridiculed
throughout the campaign, in the press and by his opponents, surprisingly will
be in the Jan. 29 run-off. He was up against such heavyweights as Assad Volcy, a
candidate (albeit dissenting) of Pitit Dessalines, Dr. Schiller Louidor of
Fanmi Lavalas, and the well-known sports journalist Patrice Dumont (RPH), whom
he will face in the second round.

            Another significant race was the
easy victory in the Grand’Anse Department of paramilitary leader Guy Philippe
of Consortium. (On Jan. 5, he was arrested by the Haitian police and turned
over to agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency or DEA). Elected as the
second Senator of the Grand’Anse was the former President of the Chamber of
Deputies, Sorel Jacinthe, under the banner of René Préval’s INITE Patriotic

            The PHTK and its allies also had
victories in the North. Lavalas defectors to PHTK and its allies beat their
former party colleagues. Nawoom Marcellus, under the Bouclier’s banner, and
Dieudonné Etienne Luma of the PHTK both beat out Kelly C. Bastien, the former
Senate President who came in third. In fact, the PHTK’s Luma is the only woman
to sit in the Senate of Haiti’s 50th legislature.

            In the Center Department, there is
another “enfant terrible” who left the Lavalas for the PHTK: Willot Joseph. He
sailed to victory with his colleague, Wilfrid Gélin. The latter was apparently
convicted in the U.S. in the 1980s for trafficking Haitians illegally into Florida.

            In the Northeast Department, the
PHTK won a stunning upset by former deputy Wanique Pierre who garnered 58.78%
of the votes against one of the leaders of the opposition against Michel
Martelly and Jovenel Moïse, former senator Jean-Baptiste Bien-Aimé. This
well-known Lavalassian, who has never betrayed his camp since the beginning,
was beaten in a region where he had long been top-dog.

            Curiously, another ESPWA baron who
had joined with Martelly in 2012 before returning to Jude Célestin in 2015 and
finally joining Jovenel Moïse in 2016 is former Sen. Joseph Lambert, who had
been badly beaten in 2015. He was elected in the first round in the Southeast
under the banner of his small local party KONA. In the space of a few months,
what changed? Did different people vote for him, or did the same people change
their vote? His indisputable victory with 53.78% of the votes dissuaded his
opponent from contesting the election. So Joseph Lambert, who had paid lip
service to Jude Célestin in 2015 and then supported Jovenel Moïse in 2016, now
will be a senator in the latter’s camp. (For the record, the PHTK had no
candidate running against him.)

            In the Center Department’s Senate
run-off, two allied former deputies are facing each other: Abel Descollines of
KID and Rosny Célestin of PHTK. No matter who wins, he will be an elected
member of the pro-presidential parliamentary group. In the Artibonite, it is
the same scenario. A sitting deputy, Garcia Delva, elected from the PHTK, had
chosen to run under the banner of AAA, a PHTK ally, for the Senate. He will
face in the second round another PHTK ally, Marc Antoine Adolphe of Bouclier.

            In the North-West, it is a strong,
even unconditional, supporter of Jovenel Moïse, Kedlaire Augustin, who will
represent the PHTK against outgoing senator François Lucas Sainvil of the
obscure regional party, MOSANOH .

            The same is true for the Nippes, the
home region of Interim President Jocelerme Privert. Bouclier’s Denis Cadeau,
former Director General of the National Education Ministry will face off
against Louberson Vilson of Fanmi Lavalas. It will be a close battle because
the two candidates had virtually the same first-round percentages: 21.03% for
the Lavalas candidate and 21.08% for the PHTK ally, Bouclier.

            It is practically the same situation
in the South Department where the two candidates are neck-and-neck. An
illustrious unknown, Pierre François Sildor of PHTK, got 25.51% of the vote,
slightly leading the political colossus of the region, former Quaestor of the
Senate Fritz Carlos Lebon of Fanmi Lavalas, with 25.33% of the votes.

            The battle is expected to be tighter
in the Grand’Anse Department where veteran politician, Sen. Andris Riché, a
flag bearer of the Struggling People’s Organization (OPL), faces Jean Rigaud
Bélizaire of Guy Philippe’s Consortium.

            Finally, the North Department PHTK
candidate Jean Marie Ralph Fethière, with 35.68% of votes, faces the Pitit
Dessalines’ only run-off candidate for the final third of the Senate, Théodore
Saintilus, who garnered 14.04% of the votes.

            This is undoubtedly a great
advantage for the President-elect who, in the first round or in the second of
the partial legislative elections, has practically a majority in the Senate. In
the Lower House, the PHTK and allies are already in the majority. In the
partial elections for 25 posts, PHTK and its allies picked up five more
deputies. While the nebula of small and large parties (Renmen Ayiti, Canaan,
Kanpe platform, KONA, VERITE, OPL, Fanmi Lavalas, APLA, Pitit Dessalines,
Fusion) shares the remaining 20 posts.

            Three women were elected to the
Chamber of Deputies in the first round of these partial elections. They were
Saint-Jean Marie Gladyce Lyndy with 53% of the votes for Jérémie; Guerda
Bellevue with 51% of the votes for Savanette; and Raymonde Rival with 55% of
votes for Cornillon/Grand-Bois.

            Basically, the legislative results
correspond to the presidential results. There would be even more doubt about
Jovenel Moïse’s victory if his party and its allies did poorly in the
legislative races.

            However, it must be remembered that
over 81% of the electorate either did not or could not vote. Could this minimal
voter participation have been programmed to ensure a victory by Haiti’s
right-wing forces?

This is a translation of the 138th
installment of Catherine Charlemagne’s weekly French-language series entitled
“Haiti, Chronicle of an Electoral Crisis.”