Haiti’s major foreign donors reluctantly gave the green light Monday to the country’s elections body to rerun last year’s contested presidential elections in October but they remain “deeply concerned” about the consequences of not having an elected president and government until February 2017. “It is the responsibility of an elected government to address the socio-economic and humanitarian challenges Haiti is facing,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sandra Honoré, said in a joint statement with the ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, Spain, France, the United States, the European Union and the Special Representative of the Organization of American States. The ambassadors, known as the “Core Group,” and their nations helped contribute to last year’s election price tag that Haiti’s interim president Jocelerme Privert said over the weekend was $100 million. The U.S. government alone contributed about $33 million including providing vehicles for Haiti’s beleaguered police force to provide security for the balloting. Only $8.2 million is left in an overall election fund, according to the United Nations Development Program resident representative in Haiti.
Kenneth Merten, the U.S. Special Coordinator for Haiti, has said it will be difficult to go before the U.S. Congress to ask for additional money for new elections. Neither Privert nor the revamped nine-member Provisional Electoral Council, or CEP, have said how much it will cost to rerun the presidential elections on Oct. 9 along with elections for a third of the Senate. If no candidate wins a majority, the presidential runoff will be held Jan. 8 along with balloting for thousands of local offices. “The Core Group remains deeply concerned that the decision to rerun the presidential elections will have financial consequences and prolong the electoral process started in 2015,” the ambassadors said before urging “all Haitian actors to scrupulously respect the electoral calendar to organize transparent and equitable elections in an impartial manner.”
The statement was issued after the CEP announced the new elections timetable Monday along with a sweeping overhaul of the system. The government of Canada has asked for Haiti’s election to be put on the agenda of the Organization of American States Permanent Council meeting on Wednesday in Washington.
Pierre Esperance, a human rights leader in Haiti, welcomed the CEP’s announcement saying he believes it is moving in the right direction. He supported its decision to reopen the electoral list, noting that there are 500,000 new voters who recently turned 18 and they should not be denied the right to vote. “I think the CEP is starting out well and they are showing a will to divorce themselves from arbitrariness and provide transparency,” Esperance said. As for the international community’s concerns, Esperance said, “Democracy shouldn’t have a price.”