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The Trouble With
 Haiti’s Elections

2 minute read

Haiti’s runoff election for president was postponed in December to Jan. 24 following widespread unrest over alleged corruption affecting first-round results. Now one of the final two candidates is calling for a boycott of the vote. Here’s how the Caribbean country’s fragile democracy is under threat:

Fraud claims After Jovenel Moïse, a former businessman chosen by incumbent President Michel Martelly, came out ahead of 54 other candidates in first-round voting on Oct. 25, his second-place opponent Jude Célestin cried foul. A voting commission later found “irregularities” in the electoral process such as incompetent voting clerks and attempts to rig the ballots.

Ballot boycott Célestin, a former state construction chief, ceased campaigning ahead of the runoff vote, calling the election a “farce” and urging voters not to take part in protest, a move that could hand power back to the current ruling party. Haitians angry at the state of their democracy staged violent protests in December in which government buildings were burned and at least one person was killed.

Uncertain future Protesters have continued to stage regular demonstrations in Port-au-Prince, accusing Martelly of fixing the elections and demanding the Jan. 24 vote be suspended, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is among the international leaders voicing concerns about the state of the electoral process. But Martelly’s term is constitutionally mandated to end on Feb. 7. If Moïse sails to victory in an uncontested election, then even more violent unrest could follow.

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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com