With Haiti’s presidential elections postponed again and just over a week left until the current leader’s term expires, various political factions are negotiating to avert a constitutional crisis that could leave the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation with nobody clearly in charge. The vote was supposed to occur last Sunday, but election authorities last week postponed it indefinitely due to security concerns, including attacks that had occurred on election offices. It was the third time the vote — a runoff originally scheduled for Dec. 27 — has been delayed. President Michel Martelly must leave office by Feb. 7. The crisis threatens to throw the poor and troubled Caribbean country back into the instability and political morass that it has long struggled against.
“You’re looking at a country absolutely mired in institutional chaos,” said Eduardo Gamarra, a professor of political science at Florida International University. “They are teetering on the brink. They are there on the edge of the precipice.”
The elections were already troubled, with opposition candidate Jude Celestin planning to boycott. The former government construction ministry director alleged vote rigging in the first round of elections that took place in October.
The ruling party candidate, Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter and political newcomer, won that round but failed to secure the required majority, thereby necessitating the runoff.