Haiti will hold elections this year despite the setbacks, the president of the Provisional Electoral Council (KEP), Guirlande Mesadieu, told VOA Creole.
“We will hold elections. We will hold a referendum,” Mesadieu said. She admitted that the current September 26 date may have to be pushed back.
Despite attempts by some political groups to pressure the KEP to suspend electoral plans following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July, Mesadieu said the council was determined to abide by the presidential decree, which called for a referendum and general elections this year.
“We, as members of the electoral council, would act irresponsibly if we unilaterally decided to hold a referendum but not a general election, or a general election and not a referendum. So everything in the (presidential) decree is what we’re focused on, ”she told VOA.
The United States and the international community have repeatedly called on Haitian officials to hold general elections to restore crippled democratic institutions, such as Parliament, and begin to address major issues.
In an interview with VOA on Tuesday, Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary in the Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the US State Department, reiterated that message.
“I think it is a critical moment for the Haitian people to come together with a consensus and to listen to the voices of all the stakeholders to build this path towards free and fair elections as soon as it is technically possible”, a Chung told VOA.
The deputy secretary said that the United States’ special envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, remained in the country after attending Moise’s funeral to meet with Haitian officials and representatives of civil society and “hear their voices” .
But André Michel, spokesperson for the Democratic and Popular Sector, said the opposition wants a dialogue to select a new transitional government and a new electoral council to organize the elections.
“There must be a credible electoral council, an honest electoral council composed of representatives from all sectors of society,” Michel said at a press conference on Tuesday.
But Mesadieu told VOA that KEP would not stop working while waiting for such a dialogue.
“So everything that people are discussing doesn’t really concern us, because we are not part of those discussions. What is clear is that if there is some kind of political agreement that would allow more than people to participate in the elections, it will be a pleasure for us to host that, “she said.” If you ask us to stand idly by and wait for a political agreement, we will just keep working. If there is a political agreement, it will happen as we move forward. ”
Prior to Moise’s death on July 7, the opposition had failed in their attempts to agree on a consensus government and a way forward.
Mesadieu admits that the KEP faces multiple obstacles as it works to organize the elections.
“Of course it is difficult, because we live in the countryside and we have to face reality. Politics, security, environment – all these things have repercussions on our work,” Mesadieu told VOA.
It is unclear to what extent the September 26 election date would be pushed back, but Mesadieu said the KEP is committed to seeing its mission completed.
Jacquelin Belizaire, Jorge Agobian and Renan Toussaint in Port-au-Prince contributed to this report.