Michel Martelly, Haiti’s president, had planned to mark the end of his term in office by going back to his old job as a popular singer of compas, a Haitian form of merengue. The idea was to perform once more as “Sweet Micky” at the Carnival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, which begins on February 7th, the day he is due to step down as president. The problem is that there is no one to succeed him. The second round of the presidential election, scheduled for January 24th after two postponements, was called off two days before the vote. Jude Célestin, the runner-up in the first round of voting in October, had condemned the ballot as a “ridiculous farce” and refused to campaign further. Thousands of his supporters, and those of candidates who lost in the first round, took to the streets to demand that the run-off be cancelled. Haiti’s electoral council said the danger of violence was too great for it to go ahead.
This leaves Haiti in limbo. Mr Martelly says he will only hand over to an elected successor, which suggests that he may govern a while longer. It is not clear how the next president will be chosen. One option would be to hold a completely new election, though Mr Martelly will fight to avoid that. He backs the winner of the first round, Jovenel Moïse, a banana grower and businessman who, like Mr Martelly before he became president, has no prior political experience. Polls suggest that he would lose if the election started from scratch.
Such chaos is typical of politics in Haiti, where parties are weak and candidates often seem to be more interested in dispensing patronage than in implementing policies. In 1990, after 28 years of authoritarian rule by the Duvalier family and four years under transition governments, Jean-Bertrand Aristide won a free and fair election. Since then, “Haiti hasn’t had an election worth calling an election,” says Robert Fatton, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. Last October’s vote was typically messy. A commission appointed by Mr Martelly found evidence of widespread irregularities, though it is not clear that they were the cause of Mr Célestin’s second-place finish.
Full Article: Chaos and compas | The Economist.