After more than a year of delays caused by public unrest, invalidated election results, and natural disasters, Haiti finally held what might be a conclusive presidential election on November 20. Jovenel Moïse, the candidate of former President Michel Martelly’s PHTK, won in convincing fashion, taking close to 56% of the vote in a race that featured more than two dozen candidates.
Although it is likely that the result will be confirmed and Moïse will be sworn into office on February 7, the combination of a very low turnout, widespread perceptions that Moïse is merely a stooge for political figures operating behind the scenes, and his opponents’ assertion that he won by means of electoral fraud mean that the new president will very likely take office under a cloud of doubt about the legitimacy and strength of his mandate.
Ensuring the delivery of international aid will necessarily be a top priority of the new government. Any chance of sustained flows of humanitarian assistance will depend on forming a stable government capable of securing approval of, and efficiently implementing, long-stalled liberal economic reforms.
A useful gauge of just how much the new government might be able to accomplish will be the speed with which the administration secures legislative approval of a prime minister. Under the last two governments, the process frequently took months, as successive candidates for the post were rejected by a majority of lawmakers, which resulted in the president being forced to work—often not very well—with a compromise choice.
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