The second round of the Haitian presidential elections – originally due on 27 December, then delayed to 24 January – was postponed indefinitely after opposition candidate Jude Célestin pulled out of the race. In a run-off vote, Célestin was supposed to compete against ruling party candidate Jovenel Moïse, the official winner of the first round of the election held on 25 October. The results of that first round – as well as those of the local and legislative elections that took place on the same day – have been fiercely contested by various opposition groups, however. Indeed, in the past few months, discontent over the electoral process has led to violence on several occasions. Protesters have set fire to electoral offices and looted stores, while clashes with police have left various people injured and some killed.

Impact on country risk

Proceeding with the election after Célestin’s withdrawal may have led to an escalation of violence, so the electoral council’s decision to defer may have been appropriate. That said, political gridlock in Haiti is now complete. In particular, a power vacuum looms because incumbent President Michel Martelly is due to step down on 7 February. A new election is unlikely to be held before then and an extension of Martelly’s term seems unacceptable to the opposition. Moreover, with the allegations of electoral fraud also undermining the legitimacy of Parliament, reaching consensus on a transitional government is not on the cards either. All this is bad news for the Haitian economy too, as the country needs an effective government to alleviate poverty, improve education and health care, oversee reconstruction efforts related to the 2010 earthquake, and – more imminently – deal with high food prices that lifted the inflation rate above 10% in 2015. This context clearly implies that Credendo Group will maintain its restrictive country policy on Haiti. Analyst: Sebastian Vanderlinden, s.vanderlinden@credendogroup.com