bcholmes: (haiti)

International observers began examining contested tallies from 19 legislative races Monday shortly after Haitian officials announced they would delay certification of results of last month's runoff election.

Colin Granderson, head of the election observer mission for the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community bloc, said he couldn't say how long it would take to sift through the results.

"It all depends on the seriousness of the dossier," he said

Scrutiny of the results comes after U.S. diplomats said last week they wanted a public explanation of how 17 Chamber of Deputies candidates and one Senate candidate were declared winners by Haiti's election commission with far more votes than they had when preliminary returns were announced April 4.

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince said the legitimacy of the legislative races would be up in the air if Haitian officials didn't explain the results. The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping force in Haiti, also expressed concerns.

In a Monday statement, Gaillot Dorsinvil, president of Haiti's election commission, said the panel would delay publishing the results for 19 legislative races in the March 20 runoff "for the sake of transparency and in the best interests of the nation."

Dorsinvil didn't disclose any details about the 19th contested race, which was in addition to the 18 questioned by U.N. and U.S. diplomats. The new results announced last week gave the political party of outgoing President Rene Preval 46 of the 99 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and an absolute majority in the Senate with 17 of 30 seats. That kind of presence in parliament would give Preval's Unity party greater control over key government decisions, including who is approved as the next prime minister, Haiti's No. 2 official.

On Monday, Unity protesters set up flaming barricades in a Port-au-Prince slum, calling for the election results to be respected. U.N. peacekeepers later extinguished the fires.

"We won't lose our vote," Unity deputy candidate Daniel Saint-Hilaire said. Saint-Hilaire, whose bid for a seat was one of those in question, won 49 per cent of the votes in the runoff, according to the results announced last week. Preliminary results had shown him in second with 45 per cent of the vote, compared to 51 per cent for his rival.

"Haiti delays certification of 19 legislative races after US, UN diplomats question results"

I can't imagine how anyone is going to be satisfied with the outcome of these elections.

bcholmes: (haiti)

Musician Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly is the winner of Haiti's presidential run-off, according to official preliminary results.

Figures indicate he secured more than two-thirds of the vote, beating former first lady Mirlande Manigat.

If the results are confirmed on 16 April, Mr Martelly, 50, will succeed President Rene Preval, who has been in office for five years.

"Haiti: Michel Martelly 'defeats' Mirlande Manigat", BBC

I don't know much about Martelly. He's been characterized as a neo-Duvalierist. Certainly he's a bit of an outsider to the political arena, and he's been critical of Aristide in the past.

bcholmes: (haiti)

A runoff between two neo-Duvalierist candidates: former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and former konpa musician Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly. The problem? The election is illegal. Only four of the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) have voted to proceed with the second round, one short of the five necessary. Furthermore, the first round results have not been published in the journal of record, Le Moniteur, and President René Préval has not officially convoked Haitians to vote – both constitutional requirements.

"In this election, it is the United Nations and Organisation of American States [OAS], both acting on Washington's behalf, who are convoking the people to vote for the candidates whom they have designated," a grassroots organiser told Haïti Liberté. (Last month, the OAS forced the CEP – constitutionally, the "final arbiter" of Haitian elections – to replace Jude Célestin, the candidate of Préval's party, with Martelly in the runoff.)

"Haiti wants Aristide: let him go", The Guardian

I often feel like I have to try to talk about "least worst" options when it comes to Haiti. I mean, the elections are a classic example.

First: they shouldn't have happened, in the wake of the earthquake. I don't know of any Haitian organizations asking for elections. Secretary Clinton pressured the current government to hold the elections because the international community wants a more pliant government in place before it starts dispersing aid.

Second: I've lost a huge buttload of respect, over the years, for the Préval government. I don't think that they speak for the people. And I think that Préval manoeuvred the CEP to keep Fanmi Lavalas out, and make his party more likely to win. To be clear: I strongly suspect that he was pressured by the international community on that first point, but at the end of the day, he went along with it. (I'm a little bit sympathetic to his position: what do you do when you know that the last guy who had your job was subjected to two coups and countless assassination attempts?) But it's also clear that the last election was rigged, and that can't be overlooked.

Third: To have the international community force Préval to withdraw Jude Célestin really strips away any pretense that Haiti has anything resembling sovereignty. Personally: I think that if the international community wanted free and fair elections in Haiti, they should have made these objections when Fanmi Lavalas was excluded. But, hey, that was an irregularity that they preferred (and, as I said, I suspect that they pushed for it)..

So now, this weekend, we're going to have an election that most of the country doesn't believe in, to choose one of two centre-right politicians. These are the choices being offered to Haitians. And it's not like they haven't made their preferences very clear.

A big theme of Aristide's book, Eyes of the Heart is this central question: how do you choose between death and death? And Aristide doesn't talk about "least worst". He says that there's something peculiarly Haitian that always finds a third way. This is part of why I think Aristide is needed, now.

bcholmes: (aristide)

Over the next few years, much of Haiti will be rebuilt and much of its economy restructured. In response to last year's earthquake an unprecedented amount of money has been promised for reconstruction. It's more important than ever before that Haiti be governed by an administration that reflects the true will and interests of its people, rather than the concerns of foreign governments and corporations.

In 2004, the US, France and Canada, in alliance with members of Haiti's business community and demobilised soldiers of the Haitian army, overthrew the last Haitian government to enjoy genuine popular support: the party that led this government, Fanmi Lavalas, was elected with around 75% of the vote. This past November, these same powers imposed and funded an illegitimate electoral process in Haiti, one that blocked the participation of Fanmi Lavalas. Only 23% of Haitian voters participated, scarcely a third of the proportion who voted in the last presidential election.

In recent weeks, the US and its proxies have brazenly interfered in the interpretation of this election's first round of results. The flawed November vote was not only inconclusive and unrepresentative, its outcome was also unlawful. If the second round of these elections goes ahead as planned on 20 March, it is now sure to result in the unconstitutional selection of a president with closer ties to the powers that sponsored and manipulated them than to the people meant to participate in them.

At the same time, the powers that dominate Haiti have facilitated the return of the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier while discouraging the return of the twice-elected president (and Fanmi Lavalas leader) Jean-Bertrand Aristide. These powers, with their allies in the Haitian business community, have made it clear that they seek to delay Aristide's return until after 20 March. They will only allow Aristide to return after a suitably pliant new government has been installed, to preside over the imminent reconstruction process.

We the undersigned call on the Haitian government to make the security arrangements that will enable Aristide's immediate return, and we call on the international community to support rather than undermine these efforts. We call on the Haitian government to cancel the second-round vote scheduled for 20 March and to organise a new round of elections, without exclusions or interference, to take place as soon as possible.

Signed,
Marie-Célie Agnant, writer
Tariq Ali, writer
Andaiye, Red Thread, Guyana
Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network
Reginald Antoine, PEVEP
Alain Badiou, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris)
Brian Becker, National Co-ordination, Answer Coalition
Emile Wilnes Brumer, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Jean-Claude Cajou, community activist
Sara Callaway, Women of Colour/Global Women's Strike, UK
Yves Camille, Haiti Liberté
Noam Chomsky, MIT
Ramsey Clark, former US attorney general
Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Dan Coughlin, executive director, Manhattan Neighborhood Network
Ezili Dantò, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
Mike Davis, UC Riverside
Castro Desroches, SUNY
Rea Dol, SODUPEP
Berthony Dupont, Haiti Liberté
Ben Dupuy, Haiti Progrès & Parti Populaire National
Darren Ell, Montreal-Haiti Solidarity Committee
Joe Emersberger, writer
Yves Engler, writer
Anthony Fenton, journalist
Weiner Kerns Fleurimond, Haiti Liberté
Pierre L Florestal, Fanmi Lavalas - NY
Daniel Florival, Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo
Sara Flounders, International Action Center
Laura Flynn, Aristide Foundation for Democracy board
Danny Glover, actor & activist, board chair, TransAfrica Forum
Leah Gordon, photographer and curator
Manu Goswami, NYU
Greg Grandin, NYU
Thomas Griffin, lawyer
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Peter Hallward, Kingston University London
Georges Honorat, Haiti Progrès
Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté
Selma James, Global Women's Strike, UK
Dr G Carlo Jean, retired public school teacher
Marlène Jean-Noel, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY
Tony Jean-Thénor, Veye Yo
Frantz Jerome, Coalition Against Occupation and Sham Elections
Evelt Jeudi, Fanmi Lavalas Miami
Mario Joseph, Office of International Lawyers (BAI)
Farah Juste, representative of Fanmi Lavalas for Florida & the Bahamas
Michelle Karshan, Aristide Foundation for Democracy
Katharine Kean, film-maker
Ira Kurzban, Counsel for the Republic of Haiti from 1991-2004
Pierre Labossière, Haiti Action Committee
Ray Laforest, International Support Haiti Network
Frantz Latour, Haiti Liberté
Andrew Leak, University College London
Didier Leblanc, Haiti Liberté
Jacques Elie Leblanc, Haiti Liberté
Maude Leblanc, Haiti Progrès
Richard Ledes, film director
Nicole Lee, President, TransAfrica Forum
Nina López, Legal Action for Women, UK
Gardy Lumas, PEVEP
Isabel Macdonald, journalist
Albert Maysles, film-maker
Yves Mésidor, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Johnny Michel, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Melinda Miles, Let Haiti Live
Georges Mompremier, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY
Fednel Monchery, Jeunesse pour la République (JPR)
Joia S. Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer, Partners In Health
Nick Nesbitt, Princeton University
Harry Numa, community activist
Vanel Louis Paul, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Gladys Timmer Phillpotts, Fanmi Lavalas Baz St Francis
Fritzner Pierre, radio host of Dyalog Popilè
Wadner Pierre, Haitianalysis.com
Yves Pierre-Louis, Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo
Kevin Pina, Haiti Information Project
Margaret Prescod, Women of Colour/Global Women's Strike, US
Jackson Rateau, Haiti Liberté
Roosevelt René, engineer
Claude Ribbe, author and filmmaker
Corey Robin, Brooklyn College & CUNY
William Robinson, UCSB
Nicolas Rossier, film-maker
Robert Roth, Haiti Action Committee
Jean Saint-Vil, writer
Alina Sixto, Radio Fanmi Lavalas New York
Mark Snyder, International Action Ties
Jeb Sprague, UCSB
Irwin Stotzky, University of Miami Law School
Lucie Tondreau, community activist
Eddy Toussaint "Tontongi", Revi Tanbou
Harold Valentin, Oganizasyon Jen Salomon (OJESA)
Burt Wides, former counsel to Haiti's constitutional government; Special Counsel to President Carter for oversight of all US Intelligence agencies
Cécile Winter, Collectif politique sida en Afrique
Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana

"Haiti needs the world's support", The Guardian (among other places)

































































































bcholmes: (haiti)

WELL before the first ballot was cast, Haiti's Nov. 28 elections were becoming the nation's third catastrophe of 2010, after the earthquake and cholera epidemic.

The decision by the Haitian government, under pressure from the United States and United Nations, to go ahead with voting in the absence of conditions for free and fair elections has shaken an already fragile Haitian democracy. Now electoral aftershocks threaten to undermine the battered country's reconstruction.

The elections were not fair because the electoral system was far from ready to ensure that all Haitians could participate as voters and candidates. This was due in part to slow progress in rebuilding after last year's earthquake, which caused three times as many deaths in proportion to population as the United Kingdom's losses during World War II.

[...]

The elections were not free because the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Provisional Electoral Council) excluded Haiti's largest party, Fanmi Lavalas, from participation on technicalities. FL's exiled leader, former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was deposed in a 2004 coup supported by the United States.

The Haitian democracy movement, which overthrew the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986 and supported Aristide with huge majorities in the '90s, has fragmented. But the ex-president still enjoys strong support in the countryside and shantytowns, and FL is still widely seen as the broadest-based political force.

"Haiti's election undermines democracy", Seattle Times editorial

Nothing in this is new, per se. But it is encouraging to see that more and more media outlets are reporting on sham elections in pretty direct language.

bcholmes: (haiti)

The Organisation of American States is set to recommend that the governing party candidate in Haiti's presidential election should be dropped from the run-off vote, reports say.

Provisional results said Jude Celestin came second in the first round to the former First Lady, Mirlande Manigat.

But OAS monitors found that the opposition candidate Michel Martelly won more votes.

The OAS was asked to review the result after violent protests.

Mr Martelly's supporters rioted in several cities and clashed with UN peacekeepers after he said he had been wrongly denied victory. At least five people were killed.

The 28 November vote was widely denounced, with reports of ballot box stuffing and violence and intimidation at polling stations.

"OAS to give Haiti presidential election verdict", BBC News

Unity (Inite) is the party that Préval recently create in place of his former Hope (Lespwa) party. Jude Celestin is, essentially, Préval's hand-picked successor. Haiti uses a run-off election system, but only two candidates advance to the second round of elections. Mirlande Manigat is currently the front-runner, and there's been a big debate about the official declaration that Jude Celestine is the second candidate since informal polling suggests that Martelly is really in second-place. If the OAS's recommendation carries any weight, Inite may be out. And, frankly, I think that's a good thing. Préval has lost the confidence of the Haitian people and done a bunch of icky stuff.

I do not know anything about the political positions of either Manigat or Martelly.

bcholmes: (haiti)

An independent recount and review of 11,171 tally sheets from Haiti’s November 28 election shows that the outcome of the election is indeterminate. The review, conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), found massive irregularities and errors in the tally. A report detailing the recount’s findings, and methodology, will be made available next week.

“With so many irregularities, errors, and fraudulent vote totals, it is impossible to say what the results of this election really are,” said Mark Weisbrot, economist and CEPR Co-Director.

“If the Organization of American States certifies this election, this would be a political decision, having nothing to do with election monitoring,” said Weisbrot. “They would lose all credibility as a neutral election-monitoring organization.”



[...]

“This election was of questionable legitimacy to begin with because the electoral authorities banned over a dozen political parties, including the country’s most popular political party,” said Weisbrot. “But with this massive level of irregularity, fraud, and disenfranchisement, it can hardly be considered a legitimate election.”

"Recount and Review of Haiti’s Election Tally Shows Massive Irregularities", Center for Economic and Policy Research

I don't know much about CEPR, but it looks like Danny Glover is on their board -- he's long been a friend to Haiti.

bcholmes: (haiti)

Recount ordered in Haitian election. A recount isn't likely to fix many of the flaws of this election, but it is a small, positive step.

bcholmes: (haiti)

In a press release issued late last night, the US Embassy in Haiti cast serious doubt on the preliminary results of ballot counts in the November 28 National Election-- an election already fraught with accusations of ballot tampering, fraud, intimidation and outright theft.

Like others, the Government of the United States is concerned by the Provisional Electoral Council's announcement of preliminary results from the November 28 national elections that are inconsistent with the published results of the National Election Observation Council (CNO), which had more than 5,500 observers and observed the vote count in 1,600 voting centers nationwide, election-day observations by official U.S. observers accredited by the CEP, and vote counts observed around the country by numerous domestic and international observers.

The impetus for this unprecedented statement is obvious.

Polling and leaked results had indicated a surprise in which the Preval government's choice, Jude Celestin, had been reduced to third place behind a grandmother and a popular, flamboyant musician. All polling had indicated that 70-year-old Mirlande H. Manigat, a former parliamentarian, Sorbonne graduate and the wife of a past president, along with businessman and musician Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly (49) had surged in a crowded field. This was a spectacular overturn of a campaign that, according to observers, had used every trick in the book to ensure that Celestin won the election.

The popularity of Manigat and Martelly was supported in preliminary estimates by the National Election Council (CNO), a watchdog group financed by the European Union. Polling of voters showed former first lady Manigat had 30 percent of the vote, Martelly 25 percent and Celestin only 20 percent. CNO's unofficial estimate was based on data from 15 percent of polling stations. It was this estimate that prompted a response from the US Embassy.

However, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced last night that former first lady Manigat won 31% of the vote and Celestin 22%. Martelly polled just over 21% - about 6,800 votes short of Celestin--less than 1 percent. Final results have been promised by December 20.

"US Embassy Casts Official Doubt on Haiti's Election Results", Huffington Post

Huh. The US (and Secretary Clinton, in particular) were big players in forcing Haiti to hold elections. I believe they're pretty complicit in a lot of the funny stuff of this and other elections since 2004. If the US embassy is criticizing the election results, the fraud must be especially egregious.

Haiti uses a form of run-off voting (but not instant run-off). Now that the list of candidates have been winnowed down, Haitians will return to the polls.

bcholmes: (haiti)

The current election was imposed on Haiti, courtesy of Washington, Ottawa, Paris and the UN Security Council. The dust had barely settled from the earthquake when they began to press for it. They footed the bill, to the tune of at least $25 million. They are the ones to be held accountable, for there was no shortage of voices in Haiti and abroad crying foul and calling for a different political course.

"Don’t blame Haitians for election fiasco ", The Toronto Star

One of the authors of the piece is my colleague, Roger, who works with our sister organization in Vancouver.

bcholmes: (haiti)

Haiti’s elections, which were fraught with widespread irregularities and the arbitrary exclusion of political parties, should be rejected by the international community, Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research said today.

"From the banning of the country’s most popular party from the ballot to election day irregularities including numerous reports of ballot stuffing and the disenfranchisement of numerous eligible voters, these elections were an obvious farce from start to finish," Weisbrot said.

Twelve presidential candidates and thousands of demonstrators called for the elections to be canceled on Sunday.

"The international community should reject these elections and affirm support for democratic institutions in Haiti," Weisbrot added. "Otherwise, Haiti could be left with a government that is widely seen as illegitimate."

"International Community Should Reject Haiti’s "Sham" Elections, CEPR Co-Director Says", Press release from the Center for Economic and Policy Research

bcholmes: (haiti)

News coverage round-up:

Haiti's immediate future appears unclear after a dozen presidential candidates called for the annulment of Sunday's general election, citing widespread fraud.

Michel Joseph Martelly, Mirlande Manigat, Charles-Henri Baker and Jean Henry Ceant were among the candidates who attended an afternoon news conference to denounce what they called "this massive fraud."

Candidate Anne Marie Josette Bijou read the statement on behalf of the 12 of 18 presidential candidates who signed it.

Their statement, read to a cheering crowd, calls for people to take to the streets to peacefully protest against the government and the country's Provisional Electoral Council, known as the CEP.

As if in response, thousands spilled onto the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, the second-largest city, after polls closed. Polls across the country were to officially close by 4 p.m. local time, but there was no way of independently verifying if that was the case.

"Haiti election a 'massive fraud'", CBC

Haiti was plunged into political crisis after a majority of the presidential candidates rejected the vote before it was even over, decrying the election as fraud-filled.

Their declaration, made at a joint press conference yesterday afternoon, raised the spectre of violence in the streets, with fears that some Haitians may attempt to force the ouster of President René Préval or attack supporters of his protégé, candidate Jude Célestin, who were accused of orchestrating the alleged fraud.

"Haitians take to the streets as voters, candidates declare election a fraud", The Globe and Mail

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Frustrated voters in Haiti protested at defective electoral lists and disorganized polling stations on Sunday as the country held turbulent elections amid a raging cholera epidemic and political tensions.

[...]

Three of the 18 presidential candidates standing announced they would hold a news conference to denounce what they called “massive fraud”.

"Angry voters protest Haiti polls delays, confusion", National Post.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Two-thirds of the candidates in Haiti's presidential race, including one of the front-runners, denounced Sunday's national elections and called for a complete annulment of the vote due to irregularities and ballot-box stuffing.

"I am asking my country's citizens, I am asking the Conseil Electoral Provisor, the government, and I'm telling the international community that as the leading candidate I'm asking for the formal cancellation of the elections," lead candidate Mirlande Manigat told CNN.

Her campaign manager, Wimine St. Pierre, said that Manigat "is asking to void the election across the entire territory of the country because of irregularities and the ballot boxes were already stuffed with votes for Jude Celestin," the hand-picked candidate of outgoing President Rene Preval.

Manigat, along with 11 other of the 18 presidential candidates, gathered at a hotel in Port-au-Prince for what contender Michel Martelly said was an event "to denounce today's massive fraud all over the country."

"Haitian candidates allege widespread fraud in national election", CNN

PORT-AU-PRINCE –The streets of Haiti’s capital were a roiling sea of protest Sunday after 12 presidential candidates came together on a single stage to denounce the election as a massive fraud orchestrated by the Inite party of current president René Préval.

Speaking as one through independent candidate Josette Bijou, a former health minister, they called for Sunday’s election to be cancelled in mid-balloting and for all Haitians to take to the streets in peaceful protest.

It was a stunning turn of events, with partisans from all the campaigns joining to sing Haiti’s national anthem as 12 of the remaining 18 presidential candidates took the stage.

Word quickly spread, and thousands of people were soon running through streets, demanding Préval’s arrest and denouncing his chosen successor, Inite’s Jude Célestin.

By early evening, tens of thousands of supporters of candidate Michel Martelly, aka the singer Sweet Mickey, were swarming the Delmas neighbourhood.

"Haiti candidates call election ‘massive fraud’", The Toronto Star

bcholmes: (haiti)

Some pretty significant stuff is happening in Haiti, today.

Twelve presidential candidates, including all the leading contenders excepting Preval's chosen heir, have just called for the election in Haiti to be cancelled. They are also calling for their supporters to fill the streets in protest.

Haiti was plunged into political crisis after a majority of the presidential candidates rejected the vote before it was even over, decrying the election as fraud-filled.

Their declaration, made at a joint press conference yesterday afternoon, raised the spectre of violence in the streets, with fears that some Haitians may attempt to force the ouster of President René Préval or attack supporters of his protégé, candidate Jude Célestin, who were accused of orchestrating the alleged fraud.

"Haitians take to the streets as voters, candidates declare election a fraud", The Globe and Mail

Tomorrow, CBC Radio One's The Current will have extensive coverage on the election, including interviews with important players in Haiti.

bcholmes: (haiti)

This report on the upcoming Haitian elections is a pretty critical assessment:

The upcoming November 28, 2010 Haitian elections have caught international attention with the proposed candidacy of an American rock star, the fragility of the Haitian government after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, and the country’s first cholera outbreak in decades. Voters will choose all 99 members of the House of Deputies for four years, a President for five years, and one-third of the Senate for six years. Forces both international and domestic are looking for these 110 leaders to emerge with the ability to give direction to the shattered country. These forces, however, have placed so much pressure on the upcoming elections that the only option is to have an election regardless of its outright illegality.

The most basic and fundamentally democratic process established in the Constitution requires the formation of an impartial electoral council that ensures fairness of the elections. Unfortunately, the establishment of this electoral council is fragrantly unconstitutional. Instead of the Constitutionally required impartial electoral council, there is a body of persons hand-selected by President Preval rendering decisions that are in favor of him and his political party -- INITE. Therefore, all of their decisions have been fundamentally flawed, disorganized, and fly in the face of the best interest of the people.

This report details the upcoming elections and analyzes the written law against the reality of how the elections are unfolding in Haiti. The specific geographical and socio-political focus of the report is the community of Bwa Nef, a neighborhood within the greater slum of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where our organization, the Lamp for Haiti foundation, is based. Like the rest of the country’s 10 million people, Bwa Nef residents will soon participate in two elections: November 28, 2010 for the National elections and March 2011, for the local elections.

bcholmes: watching the watchment (minustah)

The unrest comes ahead of Haiti's national election on November 28 to choose a new president. Some parties have sought to rally popular support by blaming the international community for the country's continuing misery from the earthquake and now for the outbreak of disease.

Rumors have been spreading for weeks that the cholera epidemic began because septic tanks at a base for Nepalese UN peacekeepers in central Haiti leaked into a major river, contaminating it.

"These guys are coming here and they rape our women, kill our people, and now bring us the disease," Haitian protester Joseph Jacquelin charged of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, in a Reuters interview. "We are tired of them and they must go. Down with MINUSTAH!"

The cholera epidemic isn't the sole root of this anger. The years of violence that MINUSTAH has waged on the people has not gone unnoticed.

The UN said it tested some of the Nepalese peacekeepers and found no trace of cholera. Meanwhile, health officials said it is impossible to know and the focus must be on containing the epidemic and not divining its source.

The targeting of the foreign peacekeepers for popular anger over the cholera epidemic is particularly worrisome as UN peacekeepers are scheduled to oversee the election later this month.

By discrediting them ahead of time as enemies of the Haitian people, some parties may be preparing the ground for rejecting the election results as unfair.

Um. The elections are unfair.

If so, that could set the stage for still more trouble for Haiti in the coming months as political unrest compounds the country’s already long list of problems.

"UN Sees Mounting Violence In Haiti Targeting Peacekeepers"

bcholmes: (haiti)

Canada will spend $5.8 million to help Haiti with its presidential and parliamentary elections in November, Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda announced Tuesday. The money will go to the United Nations Development Program to help the Haitian electoral council, which oversees the elections; to Elections Canada which will be providing technical support during the Nov. 28 elections; and to Haiti's Conseil national pour l'observation des elections for the training and deployment of local electoral observers.

"Canada has been a long-time supporter of democratic, open, and fair electoral processes in Haiti," Oda said in a news release. "Good governance and strong democratic institutions are essential to ensuring the success of reconstruction [there]."

"Canada pledges $5.8M to Haiti elections", CBC News

This number is small compared to the $30 million that Canada spent on elections in 2006. But it's still true that Canada is funding these elections that are excluding the parties that really represent the poor majority in Haiti.

The article notes that Haiti is now the largest recipient of Canadian aid; until recently, that was Afghanistan.

bcholmes: (haiti)

As Haiti gears up for its first-ever internationally televised presidential debate Saturday, confidence in the government’s ability to hold a credible poll is being undermined by allegations that President René Préval is attempting to sway the election.

Details of an Aug. 16 meeting between Mr. Préval and members of Haiti’s election commission (CEP) has observers questioning whether the CEP rejected candidates based on politics instead of the Constitution.

The meeting came days before the CEP disqualified hip-hop star Wyclef Jean and 14 other candidates from running. It was confirmed by multiple sources and, while not in itself unprecedented or a sign of political manipulation, puts scrutiny on a supposedly independent body that is meant to ensure elections are free and fair.

"I have someone at the palace who told me about the meeting between Préval and the CEP," Haitian Sen. Youri Latortue told the Monitor. "In the meeting they decided which people would be on the list."

Mr. Préval has met in recent weeks with many of the remaining presidential candidates, which some have interpreted as a further attempt to maintain control over the election. Préval, elected in 2006 to his second term, is constitutionally barred from running again.

"It’s pretty clear that President Préval has significant influence in the daily operations of the CEP in its larger decisions, like decisions to include parties or not," says Brian Concannon, director of the Washington-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). "Local press reports he’s talking to the CEP on a daily basis, which is clearly not a sign of independence."

While candidates prepare for their first debate ahead of the Nov. 28 polls, disillusionment with politics and distrust of the political elite remains high among Haiti’s 4.5 million voters – many still homeless from the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed 300,000 people.

Though most observers say Mr. Jean was rightly disqualified because he failed to meet a residency requirement, hopes were initially high that his star-power could bring overdue scrutiny to the election process. Yet in the larger context of what is best for Haiti, international observers say that a somewhat-credible election is better than no election for a country struggling to get back on its feet and dig its way out of 700 million cubic feet of rubble still lining the capital’s streets.

The eight-member CEP, entirely appointed by Préval, denies any political interference. "We are technicians, we analyzed each candidate’s files according to the electoral law and the Constitution," Wolf Lafargue, one of the CEP’s lawyers, said at a press conference in August. "We know no political pressure."

"Haiti election commission under scrutiny for ties to President René Préval", Christian Science Monitor

bcholmes: (haiti)

Imagine if the Federal Election Commission in the United States disqualified the Democratic and Republican parties from the 2012 presidential election and declared that only candidates of minor parties could run. No one would consider it a fair election, and certainly the people of the United States would rise up, claiming the election is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

Yet the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Haiti on Nov. 28 are just that -- unfair, unconstitutional and undemocratic. The country's Provisional Electoral Council, which itself is not constitutionally composed, is refusing to allow the country's majority party -- Famni Lavalas (Lavalas Family) -- to participate in the election. Thirteen other legitimate political parties are also being excluded from parliamentary elections.

The Famni Lavalas Party, headed by former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, won the last democratic election it was allowed to participate in by overwhelming margins. In May 2000, when President René Préval was in his first term, the party won virtually all the seats in the lower house of Parliament, the state houses and local governments. It won most of the seats in the Haitian Senate and the presidency. Since the February 2004 coup, Famni Lavalas has been banned from participating in Haitian politics.

The current Provisional Electoral Council, hand-picked by President Préval, has fabricated a new eligibility requirement to disqualify Famni Lavalas from the presidential elections. This new rule requires that the head of each party register presidential candidates in person.

President Aristide, however, is exiled in South Africa where a tacit agreement between many governments keeps him there. While the great powers have maintained a code of silence concerning Aristide and his right to return to his own country, they are feverishly working, with the complicity of the South African government, to ensure that he does not return. At the same time, the government of Haiti has refused to renew Aristide's passport to allow him to return to Haiti to register his party.

These political maneuvers are not lost on Haiti's people. While the mainstream media in the United States focuses on whether Wyclef Jean may run for president or what Sean Penn thinks of Jean's candidacy, the Haitian people refuse to play the fool. Indeed, they know the presidential election that will be imposed on them has nothing to do with democracy.

— Ira Kurzban, "Unfair and undemocratic", Miami Herald

I wonder if it's editorial policy at the Miami Herald to misspell Fanmi Lavalas.

"Concern"

May. 23rd, 2010 07:16 pm
bcholmes: (haiti)

A UN report has reportedly found that elections are "technically, logistically and financially" feasible. But coming up with accurate voter rolls would be nearly impossible given the hundreds of thousands who are dead or displaced.

In addition, Haiti's electoral commission has its own credibility problems after it banned Fanmi Lavalas, Aristide's former party as well as the country's largest, from taking part in the cancelled February legislative elections. It was a decision that contributed to Ottawa's concerns about the country's stability.

CBC News

Yeah, right. Ottawa is "concerned" about the country's stability.

I think they're concerned that there are still a lot of foreigners in Haiti seeing the growing "Viv retou Titid" protests.

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