Jovenel Moïse has been confirmed winner of Haiti’s presidential elections with 55.6 percent of the first round vote held on November 20, according to official results released Tuesday.
The announcement by Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council puts an end to a protracted electoral process that began in October 2015 and paralyzed the Caribbean country’s politics for more than a year.
Moïse, a 48-year-old political neophyte, will be inaugurated on February 7 and will succeed Jocelerme Privert, who will by then have served for nearly a year as interim president after Michel Martelly ended his term without an elected successor.
The October 2015 vote, which had also seen Moïse win, was scrapped after an independent commission found massive fraud. There were no major incidents reported in the November ballots.
But Moïse’s major challengers – Jude Célestin, Moïse Jean-Charles and Maryse Narcisse – also contested the preliminary results of the latest elections.
After a week-long verification of electoral materials, the electoral tribunal backed Jovenel Moïse.
“There was no massive fraud. However, some 12 percent of official accounts pointed to irregularities that would not affect the process.”
The final official results gave runner-up Célestin 19.57 percent, Moïse Jean-Charles 11.04 percent and Narcisse 9.01 percent.
Politically Divided nation
President-elect Moïse, now faces the daunting challenge of leading and healing a politically-divided nation.
He will be assuming leadership of a country riven by deep social and political divisions, and a depleted treasury.
The huge gap between rich and poor was a key aspect of the campaigns of Moïse’s main rivals, who accused him of defending only the interests of the bourgeois elite.
But Moïse on Tuesday said his administration would “work for all Haitians without distinction.”
Appealing to his rivals for the presidency, Moïse said their experience, ability and dedication were needed “so that every Haitian may have food on their plate and money in their pockets.”
And most Haitians showed little interest in the contest with only 21 percent casting a ballot in the election. Public skepticism of politicians is high, and Moïse’s ideas for reform are not very clear.
The Haitian economy remains in trouble, saddled with a US$2 billion debt, a lack of public or private investment and anemic growth that is not expected to surpass 1 percent this year.
Hurricane Matthew, which left US$2 billion in damages in October, has already complicated Moïse’s plans for turning Haiti into an exporter of organic foods.
Halting the brain drain will be one Moïse’s biggest challenges: One in every four Haitians now live abroad.
Aware of that reality, the president-elect said Tuesday it was “time for the diaspora to really participate in the economic, social and political development” of Haiti.
But Haitian law grants no political rights to non-resident Haitians, and members of the national legislature are likely to resist any change that would open the political system to competition from outside.