Senate leader Jocelerme Privert took office as Haiti’s caretaker president with one real task: Quickly untangle a political stalemate blocking presidential and legislative runoff elections. Three months on, yet another voting date has fallen by the wayside as political infighting continues to snarl election efforts. Privert, meanwhile, seems increasingly comfortable as Haiti’s leader, traveling through the capital in horn-blaring motorcades and recently attending a U.N. climate change meeting in New York. Welcome to Haiti’s dysfunctional democracy, where few people think there will be voting anytime soon. Under the accord that helped put him in office, Privert was supposed to make way for a voter-approved president May 14 following a late April election. But his provisional administration got off to a sluggish start, and only recently appointed a commission to verify contested elections held last year that many Haitians believe were rigged to benefit Tet Kale, the party of previous President Michel Martelly.
“We can’t go to the polls without first restoring confidence in the process,” said Privert, who now suggests holding presidential and legislative runoffs in October along with already scheduled balloting for a third of Senate seats.
Lawmakers aligned with Tet Kale are demanding Privert’s resignation, accusing him of putting up obstacles so he can hold onto power. The faction is stoking street protests as it opposes the verification panel, questioning its legality.
The impasse is a reminder of the fragility of democracy in one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world.