Concerns over Haiti’s disputed presidential elections widened Monday when Catholic bishops and a group of pastors joined an alliance of opposition presidential candidates in demanding an inquiry into the vote. The alliance of eight candidates, led by second-place finisher Jude Célestin and dubbed the G8, reiterated its demand for an independent commission to verify the Oct. 25 presidential vote amid allegations the balloting was tainted by “massive” fraud and irregularities on behalf of frontrunner Jovenel Moise, the government-backed candidate, and his party. The group in a signed communique issued late Sunday also is demanding sweeping changes in the police hierarchy and electoral system ahead of next month’s planned presidential runoff. Should those changes not occur, they said, they will be left with no other choice but to force a transition government to oversee new elections in Haiti.
“The G8 is convinced that honest, free, transparent and democratic elections cannot be obtained under the presidency of Joseph Michel Martelly without changes in the [Provisional Electoral Council], without a changes in some units of the [Haiti National Police] and the command at departmental offices, and without the end of reprisals and repression by police against peaceful demonstrators,” the candidates wrote.
The communique set off a chain reaction Monday with Moise’s PHTK party canceling a press conference to announce the official launch of his campaign. Prime Minister Evans Paul also entered the fray by meeting with the Private Sector Economic Forum, which has also quietly called for an inquiry into the vote.
Célestin, meanwhile, issued his own letter Monday afternoon, informing elections officials he would not be attending a Wednesday meeting. He noted that he was happy to meet as long as the proposed agenda addressed a number of issues both he and his G8 coalition have raised.