Haiti election officials are poised to accept the recommendations of a special verification commission calling for last year's disputed first round presidential elections to be re-run in October.
In a meeting Saturday with representatives of major political parties, the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) said it's prepared to publish an electoral timetable calling for the presidential balloting to occur on Oct. 9. If a candidate doesn't get the required votes to win, the second round would occur on Jan. 8, 2017, with the final election results published on Jan. 30, two political party representatives confirmed to the Miami Herald.
The October elections would also include balloting for one-third of the Senate . Still unclear, elections officials said, is what to do about the commission's findings concerning legislative candidates who were defrauded out of their seats by alleged payoffs and bad decisions by the electoral courts.
Party representatives were told that the presidential race, which fielded 54 candidates, will not be reopened to new candidates and the current 54 will have between Wednesday and June 27 to confirm their participation in the election.
Gerald Germain, spokesman for No. 2 finisher Jude Celestin, said his candidate agrees with the timetable and the CEP's proposal.
“We've always contended that the Oct. 25 elections were not elections,” he said.
Earlier this week, Celestin broke his silence and said that while the report confirmed his allegations of “massive” election fraud despite the international community saying it was one of Haiti's better votes, the beneficiaries of the fraud should be removed.
Mathias Pierre, a presidential candidate who had removed his candidacy in favor of supporting former Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, agreed. Pierre said the party will meet to take an official stance on the CEP's proposal and whether Jean-Charles, who finished No. 3, will participate.
“There should be sanctions for those who benefited from the fraud,” Pierre said, speaking on behalf of Jean-Charles' Pitit Dessalines party. “We've requested that the CEP allocate more time to discussing the report.”
Former President Michel Martelly's PHTK party and its candidate, Jovenel Moise, have rejected the verification report, calling it unconstitutional and illegal. Spokesman Renald Luberice could not be reached for comment.
His phone was off.