Haiti : Will the Feb. 29 elections in Haiti still go on?

Discussion in 'Haiti' started by Ankhur, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 4, 2009
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    owner of various real estate concerns
    A flawed election in the making
    January 5, 2010

    In the run-up to Haitian elections in February and March, the government of President René Préval has banned the Fanmi Lavalas Party, the country's largest political party, from the ballot. Lavalas was founded by Haiti's popular former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who lives in South Africa after being ousted by a right-wing coup in 2004.

    Despite the likelihood of a fundamentally flawed election, a United Nations independent expert on human rights in Haiti has declared that the government had "good reasons" to exclude Lavalas. Here, we reprint a protest statement and call to action from the Canada Haiti Action Network.

    THE CANADA Haiti Action Network expresses its grave concern at the November 26 decision by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (Conseil électoral provisoire--CEP) to exclude the Fanmi Lavalas Party from planned elections to take place on February 28, 2010. On that date, Haiti will hold elections for 98 of 99 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 10 seats of its 30-seat senate.

    According to varying news reports, some 12 other political parties that had registered to participate in the election were ruled ineligible.

    Thousands of Haitians staged a protest in the capital city of Port-au-Prince on December 16 against the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas. Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the party's executive council told the Reuters news network, "There will be no election in February, there will be a selection. What the authorities are planning is really a big farce."

    More protests are promised by popular organizations, including the newly formed Assembly of Organizations for Change (Rassemblement des Organisations pour un Changement).

    In justifying its decision, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) claimed that a registration mandate sent by Fanmi Lavalas leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, living in exile in South Africa, is not authentic. In fact, the party presented an original mandate authenticated by a Haitian notary that complies with Haitian law. Aristide sent a fax of the mandate directly to the CEP and confirmed its authenticity in a rare and lengthy interview on Port-au-Prince's Radio Solidarité.

    One party approved by the CEP is the Front for National Reconstruction of the notorious paramilitary Guy Philippe. He stands indicted by a U.S. court in 2005 on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

    This is the second time this year that the CEP has barred Fanmi Lavalas from an election. The first banning occurred in the election to 11of the 30 seats in Haiti's Senate that was held in two rounds in April and June of 2009. Following a call by Lavalas for a boycott of that election, voter turnout was less than 10 percent, perhaps as little as 2 or 3 percent. Despite the low turnout, the "elected" senators, mostly from President René Préval's electoral machine, L'Espwa, took office.

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    FANMI LAVALAS is by far the largest and most representative political party in Haiti. It was founded in 1997 and won an overwhelming victory in the presidential and legislative election of 2000. The party is "still considered the most popular political force in [Haiti]" (Reuters, "Aristide party barred from Haiti's February ballot," November 25, 2009).

    A hastily called Haitian election that excludes Fanmi Lavalas will resemble the "elections" recently held in Honduras and Afghanistan that, in reality, legitimized illegal seizures of power.

    An exclusion election will perpetuate the illegal and unconstitutional seizure of power in Haiti dating from February 2004. At that time, President Aristide, the national government he led, and other elected institutions were overthrown in a paramilitary coup, backed by the armed forces of the United States, Canada and France. U.S. Marines forcibly removed President Aristide from the country. The reason for the overthrow was that Lavalas' policies of social justice threatened the narrow economic interests of Haiti's venal elite and their foreign backers. Haiti remains occupied by a 10,000-member United Nations police and military force, known by its acronym MINUSTAH.

    The CEP has limited constitutional authority. It is a provisional body, handpicked by Haiti's president, René Préval, whereas the country's constitution, adopted in 1987, requires a permanent body. The constitution specifies an electoral council of nine members, three selected by each of the national Legislature, Senate and Supreme Court from among nominees put forward by departmental popular assemblies (Haiti currently consists of 10 geopolitical departments).

    MINUSTAH approved of the "election" of April/June 2009, as did the United States, Canada and France. The big three countries provided $12 million to organize it. Some $15 million is earmarked for the hastily called 2010 election. The United Nations' independent expert on human rights in Haiti, Michel Forst, declared on November 30 that he was convinced the CEP had "good reasons" for its recent exclusion decisions.

    Haiti's Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told a December 18 interview, "The CEP explained their reasons, and I believe the ones they gave are pretty good ones, legal ones, that are coherent with the law and their mission."


    A flawed election in the making

    In the run-up to elections in Haiti next month, the government has banned the country's largest political party from the ballot.