Photo published for Tras un año de retraso Haití finalmente realizó comicios electorales

After months of delay, on Sunday, Haitians finally went to the polls an a calm atmosphere, but amid scenes of devastation in parts of the country, with the hope of bringing Haiti back to constitutional order after more than a year of political crisis, and a provisional government.

Despite the predictions of instabilities, Sunday's presidential and legislative elections went surprisingly very smoothly, but not without some incidents. The Haitian National Police (PNH) spokesman, Gary Desrosiers during a press conference confirms that some 43 people were arrested on election day, among them 7 for possession of firearms, 3 for shootings, 4 for electoral fraud and disturbance of voting centers. Many were also arrested for trying to burn down a voting center in the town of Port Margot. Four vehicles, two rifles and a handgun were confiscated by the PNH as well. 

Some 13.000 Haitian police along 4.900 UN peacekeepers were deployed throughout the country during the election.

More than 5.000 people in the town of Jeremie alone, the city hardest-hit by last October devastating Hurricane Matthew, were not able to vote. The president of the Provisional Electoral Council, (CEP)  Leopold Berlanger said that these people were not able to vote due to flooding that blocked access to the area."We tried to send the electoral material to these centers by air, but the weather conditions did not allow us to reach them." added Berlanger. The head of the CEP also addressed reports of many voters who were not able to find their names on the voters list, due to voting lists being sent the wrong centers. It is not yet know how widespread a problem that was. 

But overall, Leopold Berlanger was very satisfied. "It was a successful day,"   "A day that unfolded in calm, serenity... and, in general, this day unfolded without violence." added the president of the Provisional Electoral Council. A view shared by the 130 members OAS electoral observers team, which also concluded that the day was a success.  "We've seen, in general terms, a peaceful day, very few minor incidents," said Gerardo de Icaza, director of the Organization of American States' department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation Secretariat.

 Officials are now counting the votes casted yesterday and the process is expected to take at least a week. Everyone is anxiously waiting for whom among the 27 candidates for president, 16 for senators and 25 for deputies will emerge as the winners. Unless one of the presidential candidates receive at least 50% of the votes, a run off is scheduled for January 29th between the top two contenders.

Sunday's Presidential Election was Historic for Haiti. It is the do-over of a presidential election held October 2015, but was resoundingly rejected by a vast majority of Haitians after the published results showed Jovenel Moise, the handpicked candidate of then president in power, Michel Martelly, came in first position with some 32.8% of the votes. Months of massive protests accusing the president of an "electoral coup" with the complice of the international community which had financed the hefty $100 million price tag election, forced Michel Martelly to step down when his 5 years constitutional mandate ended on February 7, 2016 without an elected successor. A week later an interim was president was selected by Parliament with a nonrenewable 120 days mandate to finish the process.

Under pressure from the masses' demand and the refusal of the second place  finisher presidential candidate Jude Celestin, who refused to participate in an "electoral farce", the interim government put in place an independent electoral verification commission, which after its investigation recommended that the initial results be thrown out and start over.

The international community which had financed the election, rejected the decision of the Haitian government for a verification commission as well as its latter recommendation. In protest, they pulled out their fundings and observers, the United States even made Haiti returned some $5 million that was left over from the electoral funds in signs of protest. Now the pressure was on the Haitian government to find some $55 million and financed a new election. 

Haitians had very god reason to be suspicious of the results of the 2016 presidential election, as it would later be revealed in the published emails of then US secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that Michel Martelly in the 2010 presidential election had came in third place, but under pressure from the OAS, and the US state Department, with Hillary Clinton personally travelling to Haiti to urge then President Rene Preval to modify the results as to show the US favored business-oriented candidate, Michel Martelly in first positon.

What statement! And what an historical accomplishment.  A much more organized Haitian-financed election, after decades of botched and manipulated democratic elections in Haiti by ill-will international actors with their Haitian complices.

Officials are now urging the population to remain calm while the ballots are counted.  Only the Provisional Electoral Council has the authority to provide results, reminded the head of the electoral body.