Haiti

Haiti election cycle nears end with Sunday vote and more than 5,000 seats up for grabs

In this Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, photo, a voter uses his cellphone flashlight to find his name on a voters list during elections in the Petionville suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
In this Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, photo, a voter uses his cellphone flashlight to find his name on a voters list during elections in the Petionville suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. AP

Haiti’s long-running election cycle, which began in summer 2015, is finally nearing the end.

On Sunday, the country will hold balloting for 5,536 elected posts, including runoffs for eight Senate seats and a rerun of the Lower Chamber of Deputies vote.

In all, more than 31,000 candidates are running countrywide in the election, which will bring Haiti closer to the decentralized governmental structure advocated in its constitution.

One downside of the election: All pre-Carnival festivities have been prohibited throughout the weekend.

The last time Haiti held local elections was Dec. 5, 2006. This time around, they’ve attracted little interest from Haitians, who may be suffering from election exhaustion. The country was forced to undergo a rerun of its 2015 first-round presidential vote on Nov. 20 due to fraud allegations. That vote concluded with the election of Jovenel Moïse, a businessman from the north and presidential pick of former Haitian President Michel Martelly. Moïse’s election continues to be opposed by his closest competitors.

Haiti heads to the polls to elect a president.

Among the more than 4,000 observers keeping an eye on the vote will be 71 from the Organization of American States’ Electoral Observation Mission. It is headed by former Uruguayan Sen. Juan Raúl Ferreira.

Late Thursday, the Provisional Electoral Council announced that it had settled the case of elected Sen. Wilfrid Gelin who was accused of changing his name from Wilfred to Wilfrid to hide his 1982 guilty plea for trying to smuggle undocumented individuals into the United States.

After an investigation, the council agreed that Wilfred and Wilfrid are the same person. It concluded, however, that despite its own law banning convicted persons from running for office, Gelin’s 90 days of imprisonment and three-year term on probation imposed by a U.S. federal judge did not prevent him from holding office as Haitian senator.

At 4:53 p.m. Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti suffered its worst natural disaster. More than 300,000 people died and an equal number were injured; 1.5 million were left homeless.

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