By Vania Andre
A coalition of Haitian-American organizations called for Haiti’s political players to seek a middle ground in the current electoral impasse to avoid the possibility of a transitional government.
All parties should “work together” to respect the current constitution and avoid a transition government, the coalition said in a statement released on Monday.
“As organizations representing a broad swath of Haitians in the Diaspora, we are concerned about the continuing impasse and its impact on the economy,” the statement read.
The letter was issued by some of the leading organizations in the community including, Haiti Renewal Alliance, the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce, the National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals, Konbit for Haiti, Congress to Fortify Haiti and the National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians.
Jude Celestin, who placed second, has formed an opposition alliance against the Provisional Electoral Council, which goes by the French acronym CEP, and Jovenel Moise, current President Michel Martelly’s handpicked candidate. Celestin and seven other candidates are calling for a transitional government to oversee new elections.
“The G8’s call for a transition government will serve only to prolong the untenable institutional situation in Haiti, “ Eduardo Gamarra, a political science professor at Florida International University said.
“Not only will there be no parliament for yet another significant and undetermined period, but there will be an appointed executive with no legitimacy.” A transition government would create the very situation that the opposition is attempting to avoid – a leader who has not been elected by the people.
“An interim government would not have the support of a significant portion of the electorate, which believes it legitimately won the first round,” Gamarra said. “There is no guarantee that without significant electoral reforms, mainly installing a permanent electoral council, that future elections called by a transitional government would yield a better outcome.”
Gamarra has also been polling Haiti for the past four years. His data “consistently” shows “very low levels of support for most of the political actors pushing for a transitional government.” Recent polls conducted by Gamarra suggest that the majority of Haitians are in favor of moving forward with the second round on Dec. 27.
Unless a political solution can be agreed upon, we risk the legitimacy of any government that might be elected, the coalition said.
Since the results of the Oct. 25 elections were announced, several individuals, political figures and organizations have expressed concerns over voter fraud in Haiti’s latest round of elections.
CEP attempted to pacify concerns by instituting a special commission to investigate claims of election irregularities, to which they received 162 complaints. Of the 162 complaints, 116 were discredited, with the remaining complaints pertaining to the legislative and municipal elections.
The coalition recommends recounting the ballots in the presence of independent observers, since the CEP’s assurance of an accurate presidential vote is not enough to stop the political gridlock.
The situation as it is cannot remain this way, Firmin Backer, executive director of the Haiti Renewal Alliance, and representative of the coalition said. The coalition has pledged to come to Haiti to “assist in reaching a political solution” out of the crisis.
“We don’t know what that solution is, but what we do know is that mediation needs to occur,” he said. “The coalition is ready to facilitate a dialogue between all players so that we can formulate a solution together.
“The Diaspora wants to see a government supported by everyone.”
The next round of elections is expected to take place on Dec. 27, where Moise and Celestin are supposed to face off for the presidency. Celestin, however, has not confirmed he will take part in the runoff. In an attempt to bring the political gridlock to a halt, Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten, of the U.S. State Department is visiting the country and meeting with Haitian politicians to assess the situation.
“As Haitians, what unites us is the love for our country and the idea that Haiti can again become the pearl of the Caribbean,” the coalition said, “this cause for unity is greater than anything that could potentially divide us.”