Haiti's Election, a Test for the National Police

The day before the Sunday's critical vote on August 9th, the election officials in Haiti were training polling station workers and hurrying delivering millions of ballots and other materials to the polling stations while some of them were located in the most remote part of the country.


Political parties were scrambling to get their agents' identification documents to witness and monitor the proceedings inside the polling stations, because the Provisional Electoral Council could not grant them on time. Although the Haitian police chief, Orélus Godson, with a sense of serenity had ensured before the election that the security forces would be implemented, security plans are in place, many people were scared on the election day, wondering if they go to vote, they might get shot at during the first round of parliamentary elections on Sunday, August 9. In Haiti, elections have long been synonymous with violence; it is the security on election day that is of concern.

Three voting centers in the capital city and numerous polling places in other sections of the country were closed because men armed with rocks and bottles attacked polling stations. Two people were killed amid violence; the percentage of polling was reported to be less than the expectation. News of scattered arrests was received. Many observers from different political parties have complained that they were denied access to the polling stations by the election officials.

However, the country's Prime Minister Evans Paul while condemning the disruptive violence has expressed his satisfaction on the way that the legislative election has been handled. Even Mr. Pierre-Louis Opont, the head of the country's Provisional Electoral Council, has told the reporters that only 54 or about 5% of the total polling stations were affected by such violence.

Earlier on March 18, 2015, the Haitian government and the election authority did express their concern over the UN Peacekeepers'' plan to withdraw its forces from six of ten regions in the country. The country had asked to pause its planned withdrawal of some of its military troops in the country and requested to reassess its time table of withdrawal. However, some considered it would give an opportunity for a real test of the Haitian police. When a team of the United Nations Security Council visited Haiti during January 23 to 25, everyone they met had emphasized the importance of elections. Recently Prime Minister Paul has said, steps have been taken to at the High Council of the National Police (NUMC in French) to ensure the impartiality of the Haitian National Police (PNH in French) in the conduct of elections.

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