The unrest in Haiti has become so violent that the United Nations has stepped in, calling on influential political forces to promote peace and order in the country. Protests are being held there out of public frustration over the presidential election that have now been postponed multiple times.
Sitting President Michael Martelly is accused of having rigged the election in his support of candidate Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter, in the first round of voting last October. This prompted Moise’s opponent, Jude Celestin, a former government executive, to refuse to participate in the run-off vote that was supposed to occur on Sunday, Jan 24. This marks the third time that the election date was post-poned due to corruption charges.
The new date for the election has yet to be announced. Martelly is officially out of office on Feb 7 but civilians are demanding that Martelly is ousted from his post before then to facilitate forming an interim government to preside over the elections.
Protestors can be seen in the streets singing and dancing to sound systems while holding bonfires in central areas. Martelly denies the accusations of rigging the election but the public has made a loud, intense response to the issues that have come up in the election with consistent demonstrations after decades of misguidance from the government.
“Martelly believes the country is for himself and his family,” said one unemployed man at the protests. “We want him to go.”
Despite anger from the public, it seems as though their resistance against the government won’t go uncontested. Former coup leader Guy Philippe, the same man who is a Senate candidate and is wanted by the US for smuggling cocaine, has gone as far to say that “war” will be waged against “anarchists” who further impede the election with their protests.
“We will divide the country,” Phillipe said.
The U.S. State Department has been supportive of the election, despite the disputes made in the proceedings resulting from Martelly’s administration. On Sunday, the department released a statement censuring protestors, calling their demonstrations and resulting violence “unacceptable.”