Haiti

Protests, vote planned over fate of Haiti’s President Privert

A supporter of the PHTK presidential candidate Jovenel Moise poors beer into a skull representing interim President Jocelerme Privert in a mock coffin, during a voodoo ceremony, before the start of a protest march demanding his resignation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The electoral council of Haiti has decided to re-do a presidential election that a special commission determined was marred by fraud.
A supporter of the PHTK presidential candidate Jovenel Moise poors beer into a skull representing interim President Jocelerme Privert in a mock coffin, during a voodoo ceremony, before the start of a protest march demanding his resignation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The electoral council of Haiti has decided to re-do a presidential election that a special commission determined was marred by fraud. AP

Haiti’s Lower Chamber of Deputies returned to work Monday after a month-long vacation but delayed a decision on the fate of interim President Jocelerme Privert until Tuesday.

That is the June 14 deadline set in a Feb. 5 political accord guiding Haiti’s second transitional government in more than a decade. The accord was fashioned by Privert and then President Michel Martelly after Haiti failed to elect a successor to the musician-turned president amid voter fraud allegations in the country’s Aug. 9 legislative first round and Oct. 25 presidential first round.

Chamber President Cholzer Chancy, acting as head of the National Assembly, demanded that deputies and senators return to parliament Tuesday for a vote on whether Privert should stay until the country’s interrupted elections are completed early next year, or be booted from the palace.

“It is with this delicate, potentially explosive situation that I'm defending a solution that favors peace, calm, a harmonious transition, a solution that puts the interests of the country above partisan interests,” said Chancy, who didn’t say what that solution was.

Chancy’s request for the Tuesday vote came after a rowdy session that started six-and-a-half hours after it was scheduled. Some 50 deputies had signed a declaration detailing the country’s ongoing challenges and supporting Privert’s effort. Meanwhile, as a senator began reading the correspondence out loud, anti-Privert deputies who are aligned with Martelly noisily protested the reading. After a senator grabbed the document, another lawmaker snatched it and ripped it up.

Chancy acknowledged that Haiti’s “actual situation is worrying,” but “the politics is holding the Haitian people hostage,” he said. Haiti has been without a legitimate government since Martelly left power on Feb. 5 as the constitution demanded. There was not any elected successor.

Last week the Provisional Electoral Council published a new elections calendar, including a re-run presidential first round on Oct. 9 based on the recommendations of that special verification commission Privert mounted. Among the commission’s findings: There were more than 600,000 untraceable or “zombie” votes. Its methodology, however, has been challenged by the European Union, which last week pulled its international observers mission from Haiti in protest of the findings. The EU, along with the United States, criticized the re-run recommendation. Despite the irregularities, the EU said, the vote pitting Jovenel Moise against Jude Celestin in a runoff met international standards.

The commission also called for more than three dozen parliamentary wins to be re-considered.

“We are not linked to these recommendations,” Chancy told the parliament, dismissing the recommendations.

Last week, a coalition of Privert’s opponents and Martelly’s supporters that includes former Prime Minister Evans Paul called for nationwide protests Tuesday to remove Privert from office.

They are calling it “Operation Drop-off,” as in remitting the presidential sash Privert was given on Feb. 14 when he was voted to lead Haiti’s second transitional government in 12 years.

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