Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council has postponed the Dec. 27 presidential runoff elections pitting government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse against Jude Célestin, the former head of the state-owned construction agency.
Elections officials made the announcement late Monday in a communiqué, just hours after the spokesman for the nine-member council, known as the CEP, told journalists that the body was ready to hold the vote. Also postponed were parliamentary runoffs and local elections, which were to take place on Dec. 27.
No alternative date was provided. Instead, officials noted that the runoff is pending the report of an electoral commission charged with evaluating the Oct. 25 presidential vote. Local electoral observer and presidential candidates, including Célestin, allege that the elections was marred by vote rigging and ballot stuffing.
The five-member commission was announced by President Michel Martelly last Thursday and was supposed to have provided recommendations to the government and elections officials as of Sunday. But four days after its formation, the commission’s members still haven’t been sworn-in amid controversy over the body’s makeup and terms of reference.
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Opposition groups as well as religious clergy have all asked for an independent Haitian-led commission to do an inquiry into the vote.
“This is a step in the right direction,” Célestin told the Miami Herald. “But we still need the creation of a real and transparent commission with the involvement of credible Haitian institutions to assess the elections, as the popuation and all of civil society are demanding.”
Gregory Mayard-Paul, an advisor to Moïse, said the candidate will continue campaigning “to convince more people and to share his plan and his dream for a better Haiti.”
“The CEP is the only legal institution that can decide to change the election date, so we just have to respect their decision and wait for the new date,” Mayard -Paul told the Herald.