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vendredi 22 janvier 2016

Haiti elections scheduled for Sunday have been canceled

- The CEP said safety could not be guaranteed
- Opposition candidate calls cancellation a victory
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Negotials have been ongoing since early Thursday
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
jcharles@miamiherald.com
PORT-AU-PRINCE
Haitian elections officials Friday afternoon abruptly canceled Sunday’s planned elections amid escalating protests and violence around the country.
Moments earlier, the officials had halted the distribution of voting materials and began recovery of those that had already gone out.
Elections officials said at a news conference that safety could not be guaranteed for voters or poll workers.
The cancellation is “a victory for all of the democratic sector,” said Jude Célestin, the main opposition candidate in Sunday’s election.
“This isn’t just about me. It’s also about all the people who supported me and who fought for us to arrive here,” he told the Miami Herald.
The electoral commission’s about-face came after the international community said it is leaving the door open for Haitians to find a political consensus that could lead to the postponement of Sunday’s partial legislative and presidential runoff.
Six foreign ambassadors along with the representative of the Organization of American States and the head of the U.N. peacekeeping stabilization mission said Friday that while they still want to see the conclusion of the electoral process, they support efforts “aimed at finding a way forward that ensures the democratic renewal of state institutions.”
The statement makes no mention of a Jan. 24 presidential runoff or a Feb. 7 constitutional end of President Michel Martelly’s term, two dates that the international community had been insistent on Haiti maintaining. But they softened their stance Friday as Célestin continued to boycott the runoff and tires and cars burned in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. Also, reports trickled in that schools doubling as voting bureaus were being burned.
For days, members of the private sector and Roman Catholic Cardinal Chibly Langlois have been trying to find a solution to the country's electoral crisis, which was triggered by allegations of fraud in the Oct. 25 presidential runoff and Célestin declaring his non-participation. The negotiations had stalled but as of Friday, they were back on track as both the executive and the opposition worked on their own separate proposals.
Sources familiar with the talks, say the sticking point remains Feb. 7, and who would govern Haiti afterward. Martelly supporters say he should be allowed to remain in power until a new president is elected. The opposition, including a majority of senators, want him gone.
While Martelly has been insistent on his desire to leave at the end of his presidential term, he has said that he has an obligation to hand over power to another elected president. This, however, has been a rare occurrence in Haiti's turbulent history where former President Rene Préval became the first president to not face prison, death or exile after he transferred power to Martelly in 2011.
Less than 24 hours after Martelly called on Haitians to head to the polls in a national address, Prime Minister Evans Paul said in an interview on Vision 2000 that “everyone sees that there is a problem with the 24th of January...even President Martelly when he says elections ‘straight ahead.’ ”
Despite that government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse continued with the campaigning spending Friday, doing media rounds in the capital after holding a rally the evening before in Ouanaminthe.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article56092280.html#storylink=cpy Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article56092280.html#storylink=cpy

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