Haiti is immersed in an electoral process which could be historic, if the vote is able to resolve the acute political crisis the country is experiencing, and contribute to reinforcing the nation’s institutions.
Launched with massive rallies were the campaigns of 55 candidates who will face off in the Presidential election’s first round, scheduled for October 25.
The opposition party Fanmi Lavalas took advantage of an event this past September 30 commemorating the 24th anniversary of the 1991 coup which ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Aristide himself personally introduced the group’s candidate Maryse Narcisse, before thousands of supporters and sympathizers who came to the rally from all parts of the capital.
Other aspiring Presidential candidates, including Jude Celestin, Jean Henri Ceant and Jean-Charles Mose, also held their first rallies around this time.
Celestin, candidate for the Alternative League for Progress and Emancipation in Haiti (Lapeh), attracted a large crowd in Croix-des-Bouquets, some 20 kilometers from Port-au-Prince.
Ceant, leader of Renmen Ayiti, (Love Haiti) met with his many supporters in the popular neighborhood of Bel-Air, and promised to struggle against inequality and launched his new slogan, “A better Haiti is possible.”
Former parliamentarian Jean-Charles Mose, candidate of the Pitit Dessalines, (Sons of Dessalines) launched his campaign in Saint-Michel de l’Atalaye (Artibonite) with a promise to fight corruption.
Despite the prevailing campaign environment, the intolerant positions of some groups, and dissatisfaction with electoral authorities, persist.
A discussion held at the university (Fasch), for example, with Sauveur Pierre Etienne, candidate from the Organization of the People in Struggle (OPL), was interrupted by fistfights and thrown chairs.
Additionally, individuals and organizations continue to challenge the results announced by the provisional Electoral Council (CEP) for the first round of parliamentary elections.
Voter turnout for this election, held August 9, barely reached 18%, and only eight deputies and two senators were elected, with 139 seats to be filled.
Leaders of various oppositions groups accuse the CEP of partiality since all the candidates elected are supporters of the governing Haitian Tet Kale Party (PHTK), which had the most candidates running.
The August 9 vote was marked by violence which left a dozen dead, several injured and 137 arrested, among these five candidates who are facing charges.
Dissatisfaction with the CEP has been expressed in different ways, with street protests, calls for the dissolution of this body, and demands for the creation of a transition government.
Members of the CEP have been attacked and threatened.
A public opinion poll, conducted between September 29 and October 3 by Sigma Stat Consulting Group & Associates, places the Fanmi Lavalas candidate in first place, with Maryse Narcisse garnering the support of 27.9% of prospective voters, followed by Mose Jovenel (from the governing PHTK) with 18.9%.
In third place is Jude Celestin with 14.9%; followed by Jean-Charles Mose, with 11.8 %. No other candidate reached 7%.
The survey was conducted three days after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide participated in a Lavalas event and called on Haitians to vote for Maryse Narcisse.