Haitians will have to wait until Thursday to learn who won the country’s recent presidential elections or advanced into a Dec. 27 runoff.
“Publication of the results have been postponed until [Thursday] to take into account all of the complaints that have been received,” Pierre-Louis Opont, the president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council, told the Miami Herald.
Preliminary results for the Oct. 25 first round of presidential elections, legislative runoffs, and mayors were supposed to be released Tuesday. But in recent days, 162 complaints about fraud have been logged by the nine-member elections council, which announced a commission made up of members to address the complaints.
For the past nine days, some 800 workers and 28 lawyers have been working around-the-clock inside a vote-tabulation center reviewing tally sheets from the 13,275 polling stations from around the country.
As of Monday afternoon, they had treated 95.33 percent, or 12,801, of the presidential sheets. Of that number, 349 had been set aside because of fraud or suspicious tallying, according to the data published by the tabulation center.
While international observers and Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul praised the elections, an avalanche of accusations and rumors about a tainted vote has emerged. At the center are charges that 915,675 accreditation cards, which were distributed to political-party monitors and electoral-observer organizations ahead of the Oct. 25 vote in hopes of diminishing fraud, were being sold in a thriving black market.
There were also reports of ballot-box stuffing and people voting multiple times.
“The international community has always characterized as ‘acceptable’ elections that were perceived as fraudulent and illegitimate by Haitian watchdog organizations and Haitians themselves. So there is nothing new in its reaction to the elections of October 25th,” said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia. “The ‘core countries’ have applauded last Sunday’s election since it was much better organized than the recent and disastrous legislative election of August 9. So they will wait for the publication of the official results before pronouncing themselves publicly.”
Fatton said fraud and accusations of fraud are a constant in Haitian elections and it is therefore not surprising to hear that the vote was marred by fraud.
Some 54 candidates ran for president, including government-backed candidate Jovenel Moise and opposition candidates Jude Célestin, Moise Jean-Charles, and Dr. Maryse Narcisse. All four believe they had a strong enough showing to either have won in the first round with 50 percent plus one or 25 percent more votes than the nearest competitor.
The wait for the results has Haiti on edge. On Sunday, a Vodou ceremony quickly spiraled into a protest as supporters of Narcisse, Jean-Charles, and Célestin took to the streets after attacking supporters of government-backed candidate Moise.