Despite international pressure, including the U.S. threat to withhold funds, Haiti seems unwilling to hold elections overdue since more than two years ago. The Caribbean country was supposed to go to polls this month, but a key legal proposal related to electoral process is still awaiting the Senate’s approval. Without it, elections cannot be held.
In January last year, a top United Nations’ official in Haiti, Mariano Fernandez Amunátegui, urged the country to hold elections by the end of that year. In April this year, the United States threatened to withhold US$300 million in aid if there were no elections.
As suggested, Haiti set up an Electoral Council to conduct elections. But the Council’s recommendations, known as El Rancho Accord, made after a series of talks among political parties, politicians, and members of the church and civil society, got stuck in the parliament.
The legal proposal, according to analysts, gives power to the president to name members to an independent electoral commission, responsible for holding elections. Many parliamentarians are opposed to handing so much power to the president.
The Caribbean country, heavily dependent on the foreign aid, is still recovering from the disastrous 2010 earthquake, which weakened even its presidential palace. The long delay has now discouraged international donors.
President Michel Martelly has continued ruling by decrees, with several seats – including 20 senators, 99 deputies, and 140 municipal positions – remaining vacant.
Elections are urgent to address concerns about balance of power, analysts say.
The United Nations says it is finding it extremely difficult to go ahead with its Haiti Stabilization Mission, known locally as MINUSTAH.
Established by the Security Council in 2004, MINUSTAH is designed to restore a secure and stable environment, to promote the political process, to strengthen Haiti’s Government institutions and rule-of-law-structures, and to promote and to protect human rights.