Haiti’s Runoff Elections Scheduled
Following a first round of elections in November, Haiti has scheduled presidential run-off elections for March 20. The announcement comes after more than two months of political uncertainty following widely-contested election results when no single candidate garnered the majority of votes needed to win the presidential election. Without a majority, a runoff election was set in place.
Original counts by Haitian officials put the top two candidates from the March 20 election on the runoff ballot: former first lady Mirlande Manigat (who garnered the most votes) and runner-up, Jude Celestin (who is backed by Haiti’s current leader, President Rene Preval.)
These results were accepted by Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council and the Organization of American States, and an initial second-round of voting was slated for January 2011. However, unrest amongst voters claiming that the election was a fraud has led to months of political deadlock.
The fraudulent claims were acknowledged by the OAS who later confirmed that Michel Martelly, a popular Haitian musician and a political candidate in the election, should also be included in the March 20 election.
OAS discovered that 9 percent of the ballots from the 11,181 polling stations had “simply disappeared” and while only 23 percent of the public voted, 334 stations had turn-outs greater than 100 percent.
"The international community has been very clear, and I am going to carry that message," U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said in a statement, recognizing the OAS. "But I will also be listening."
The UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSTAH, along with the Provisional Electoral Council, is providing logistics and security for Haiti’s run-off elections. The organizations support the inclusion of the Haitians who have been displaced from the devastating 2010 earthquake on the voting list and will aid them to polling stations. Over 4,000 security guards have been trained to minimize possible election violence. Learn more about the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) here.
Significant challenges still remain for Haiti today, and progress toward recovery has been slowed due to the lack of a stable government. The UN is working to help meet immediate humanitarian needs in Haiti but the disbursement of pledged aid to Haiti by international donors have been hindered due to Haiti’s instability.
As noted by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in recent remarks on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, “International aid and investment has not come as quickly as needed, or as promised. Yet, we are making progress...We provide clean water to one million people every day, food to two million people every month. We are providing security and will help a new government get on its feet and fulfill its responsibilities to its people.”
Learn more about UN Peacekeeping in Haiti - visit our page on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).