An electoral tribunal in Haiti has ruled that the level of voter fraud in that country’s November 2016 presidential election was not enough to “significantly” alter the outcome, and has confirmed the election win of banana farmer Jovenel Moise.
The election review follows months of unrest and street violence following two disputed elections within a 13-month period in what is the western hemisphere’s oldest failed black state.
The wrangling over the presidential results dates back to October 2015, when Moise received 32.8 percent of votes in what was supposed to be the first round of two elections. He qualified for the run-off election with second-place finisher, Jude Celestin.
Street violence in Haiti following the disputed elections in February 2016.
However, an exit poll at the time conducted by the Haiti Sentinel showed Moise receiving only 6 percent of the vote, and many reports detailed the astonishing levels of fraud, including ballots which were stuffed in boxes during the final hours of voting, and political party monitors voting multiple times for a candidate.
The National Police of Haiti (PNH) even issued a twitter photograph of one activist, named as Jean Claude Pierre, who had been arrested while in possession of no less than 15 voting cards.
After Haitians voted, their thumbs were marked with black ink. International observers however reported women wearing false nails, or voters using wax on their fingers to prevent the ink from adhering.
The Miami Herald reporter covering that election reported overhearing men negotiating the purchase of 300 voter cards, apparently from corrupt officials.
One candidate, Jean-Charles Moise (no relation to Jovenel Moise), said he had evidence that ballots with his name were being burned by officials, and then thousands of Haitians took to erecting barricades in the capital city, Port-au-Prince, and burning tires in protest.
The unrest and violence was so extensive that the run-off vote had to be postponed, and an “indirect presidential election”—by members of Haiti’s senate—was held to elect an interim president.
A special committee was set up to investigate the fraud allegations, and after finding “significant fraud,” annulled the election result, ordering a rerun. It was this second election which took place on November 20, 2016, a full 13 months after the first.
In the November rerun, Moise took 55.67 percent of the vote and was declared the winner. Turnout was 21 percent.
Moise’s opponents immediately lodged further objections, claiming more instances of fraud, and a new, second commission was set up to review the allegations.
After several false starts—mainly caused by allegations of bias—the Provisional Electoral Council ruled that there had been “some irregularities but not enough to affect the outcome,” based on an analysis of 12 percent of the ballots.
Barring any further violence, Moise is to be sworn in on February 7.
Haiti became the western hemisphere’s first independent black state in 1804, overthrowing the French colonial rulers in a race war which resulted in the extermination of first all the whites and then the mixed-race population.
Since then, the country has become infamous as a Third World disaster zone, despite being in an agriculturally-perfect geographic area and having won its independence only 28 years after the United States of America had won its.
Recommended reading: Where Black Rules White: A Journey across and about Hayti. By H. Hesketh Prichard. In 1899, this British author was the first white man to cross the interior of the black island republic since 1803.
This incredible book describes in excruciating, horrifying and sometimes amusing detail how, after nearly 100 years of independence, the black rulers of Haiti had turned this once-prosperous white-ruled colony into an unimaginable hell.