President Michel Martelly took office in 2011 after a seriously flawed election process made worse by the lingering earthquake crisis. His term has been marked largely by a series of failures to follow through on elections. Last year, the terms of most representatives of parliament expired, and no local or municipal elections had been held to determine their replacements. This drew international attention, and Martelly promised to hold elections during 2015 for new representatives and his replacement. The first round of those elections was held in October 2015, but those elections were marred by irregularities, ultimately resulting in the opposition candidate refusing to participate in the second round of elections which was delayed, delayed and finally cancelled last week.
Now, Martelly is legally obligated to step down on February 7th and no replacement has been elected. Hope of legitimately electing a replacement in the next week is absurd, but alternate solutions are faint. This past weekend, representatives from the Organization of American States were in Haiti to review possible options for moving forward. One viable option would be to create an interim government to hold power and organize elections. However, three members of the nine member electoral council have just resigned, making even the possibility of a vote on the options proposed by the OAS a challenge.
Meanwhile, communities are continuing to struggle with caring for their basic needs in this poorest country in the hemisphere. As we have highlighted in previous blog posts, foreign NGOs and business interests in Haiti are having an undue influence in the country as they struggle to establish a legitimate democracy. The role of these outside players is a real concern, particularly as they have brought Haiti from a self-sufficient nation to one that is dependent on foreign aid. The events of the next couple days and weeks will have a big impact on Haiti’s future and we will be watching to see what’s next.