A commission charged with evaluating Haiti’s Oct. 25 presidential and legislative elections has found that egregious irregularities and a high presumption of fraud plagued the vote, while the electoral machine requires sweeping changes in order to hold a postponed runoff. According to official results, government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse received 32.76 percent of the votes while Jude Célestin, the former head of the state construction agency, garnered 25.29 percent. Célestin, however, called the results a “ridiculous farce” and refused to campaign. Alleging vote-rigging and ballot-stuffing, Célestin and other opposition candidates called for an independent Haitian-led commission to probe the disputed balloting. The commission was created by President Michel Martelly on Dec. 22, five days before the postponed second round. On Sunday morning, members issued their findings, which critics say do not resolve the political crisis despite pointing out a series of major systemic problems besieging Haitian society.
For one, the report, which acknowledged problems with the electoral machine, does not call for a postponement of the second round. Both Martelly and Prime Minister Evans Paul have indicated that it must take place on Jan. 17 if Haiti is to have a new president take office by its Feb. 7 constitutionally-mandated deadline.
Instead, the report calls for greater transparency including a national dialogue, an extensive analysis of the vote to determine the real extent of the irregularities and fraud, and changes in the electoral machine. The council, known as the CEP, “no longer has the credibility to permit it to continue with the process without plunging the country into a more serious crisis,” the report says.