I spent a lot of time in Gonaives this week and have been paying close attention to the news keeping myself updated on what is happening in the Presidential Election.
It was announced this week that government protégé Jude Celestin and former first lady Mirlande Manigat were the top two candidates who were to advance to a second round run-off in presidential elections, scheduled for January 16th.
By early morning all hell had broken loose, furious supporters of eliminated candidates set fires and put up barricades in the streets of PaP after hearing the outcome. The results were immediately questioned in country and abroad, threatening more unrest for poor Haiti already wracked by the cholera epidemic and still recovering from the devastating earthquake. Popular carnival singer Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly trailed Mr Celestin by about 6,800 votes - less than 1%, according to the results released by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council.
Despite the madness in PaP, Gonaives remained relatively calm and we were able to carry on with a normal working day. The project in Gonaives is progressing well and the 80 new houses should be to wall plate level by the end of January.
Haven is preparing a Cholera mitigation proposal to cover our beneficiary areas of Mount Blanc, Jubalee, Raboto and Latanere. A WASH cluster has been established in the area. This is a group of NGO’s (UN, Red Cross, Government of Haiti) looking after Water and Sanitation in the Gonaives area. They have welcomed our Havens presence as we have a good reputation for building and Gonaives badly needs latrines.
This morning at 6 am, Security gave me the all clear to return to Port au Prince as it was raining and the barricades were being abandoned. Worst luck, it had stopped raining by the time we hit the outskirts of the City and true to form the ‘manifestations’ had started again in earnest. Getting back to the safety of the house was greeted with a huge sigh of relief.
The Haven team are now on ‘lock down’ once again, we are all hoping the unrest will come to an end now that Haiti's Electoral Council (CEP) has just released a note to the press saying that a special recount for the first 3 candidates for President of Haiti: Michel Martelly, Mirlande Manigat, and Jude Celestin is being considered.
In the meanwhile we have plenty to keep us constructively occupied finalising project proposals for Phase 2 Rubble housing, permanent housing submissions to the Haiti Reconstruction Commission (HRC), Cholera proposals for IA, CGI reports and other such fun stuff you never really get around to on a normal day.
Joe Grealy just called from Quanaminthe to let me know we have our first suspected case of Cholera in Bas Dilaire. We made contact with our partners Plan International and they are providing super support.
Now, if only I had stocked the fridge with a few beers before heading to Gonaives! Ah well, roll on the Christmas party………..