First round Presidential vote is labelled fraudulent by OEA whilst Haitians commemorate earthquake anniversary and cholera progress shows signs of slowing.
This week in Haiti, the results of the report on the validity of the first round presidential vote by L’Organisation des Etats américains (Organisiation of American States-OEA) were published. The report calls for the results from the first round to be discarded and for Jude Celestin, the candidate of the Inité party currently in power, to be taken out of the running.
According to the report, the popular Michel Martelly – the former singer whose supporters began rioting when he failed to reach final two – should progress to the second round of voting with former first lady, Mirlande Manigat.
Speculation is rife as to how this will affect the Inité party, whose leader, current President René Préval, called for the intervention from the OEA. By over-ruling the preliminary vote, the OEA is reinforcing the widely held belief that Jude Celestin was the beneficiary of significant fraud during the first round of voting on 28 November 2010.
Préval is caught between ignoring the OEA’s ruling, and calling for the second round to be held between Celestin and Manigat; or following the report’s advice, in which case his party would be out of the running. For Haitian daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste, it simply boils down to the question: ‘Will Inité survive?’.
On Wednesday, Haitians marked the one year anniversary of the earthquake which destroyed much of the island in an official ‘day of remembrance and contemplation’. Prayer services and masses, ceremonies honouring the 260,000 victims and voodoo rituals all took place, whilst the wider media lamented the lack of tangible reconstruction.
The unstable political climate, dependence on charitable organisations, the cholera epidemic and inefficiency of La Commission intérimaire pour la reconstruction d’Haiti (Interim council for the reconstruction of Haiti – CIRH) – of which the co-president is Bill Clinton – have all been cited as obstacles on the path to reconstruction.
As the build up of world-wide media attention due to the anniversary fades away, pressure builds on the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to reduce their presence in Haiti. The reconstruction, in the presence of the NGOs has been slow, with 800,000 people still sheltering under canvas and reportedly only 5% of debris cleared.
However, the chief of the mission of Medécins sans frontières (Doctors without Borders-MSF), Stefano Zannini, was quoted by Le Nouvelliste as saying in a telephone conference: ‘we have done what we needed to do…a year after the disaster, it is time for the humanitarians to leave room’.
With the New Year comes tentative speculation that the cholera epidemic might be slowing. The disease, which has killed 3,759 since mid-October, claimed 100 more lives last week, as opposed to around 300 in the week previous to that.
The figures, provided by the Haitian Ministry of Health, also count an average of 17 deaths per day from 1-7 January 2011, the lowest figure since the disease broke out.