Government-backed candidate Jovenel Moise will face Jude Célestin, the former head of the state construction company, in a Dec. 27 presidential runoff, the head of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council declared Tuesday during an announcement of the official results of last month’s first round presidential vote. Pierre-Louis Opont made the announcement hours after the National Offices of Electoral Litigation (BCEN) rejected the demands of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas opposition party to eject Moise from the race because of “massive fraud” during the Oct. 25 first round balloting. The five-judge panel did, however, order that 50 problematic and fraudulent tally sheets from polling stations across Haiti be removed from the final results. While the modification slightly changed the final percentage of votes Moise with 32.76 percent to Célestin’s received, it didn’t change their preliminary finish, Opont said. In reaction, partisans of opposition candidates accusing Moise and Martelly of orchestrating fraud — accusations Moise and his PHTK party have denied — took to the streets setting tires ablaze in planned protests. Radio reported that at least five people were injured, including two Haiti National Police officers by bullets.
“We are hoping for peace to be re-established so that the [final] rounds of elections and the presidential runoff can happen without any incidents,” Opont said in an appeal for calm. “We will need a lot of peace; we will need a lot of togetherness.”
For weeks, Fanmi Lavalas supporters as well as partisans of Célestin and third-place finisher former Sen. Moise Jean-Charles, have taken to the streets in growing and increasingly violent protests. While at first they demanded an independent verification of the vote by a commission, protesters have been increasingly calling for the departure of Martelly and a transition government to redo the elections.
“There are only two options for the streets: the removal of Jovenel or transition,” said former Sen. Jean-Hector Anacasis, spokesman for Célestin’s Lapeh political party.