It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light

Mwen se echantiyon yon ras kap boujonnen men ki poko donnen

Si vous voulez vous faire des ennemis essayer de changer les choses

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Elections Senatoriales: Correspondance lavalas, CEP et le Ministere de la Justice

Haitian Senate elections for drug dealer candidates to be funded by U.S. Taxpayers? by Stanley Lucas

Photo: General Titi, Jean Bertrand Aristide, Fourrel Celestin----------------------------
He was named police chief by former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, but the Haitian senate declined to ratify him because his corruption was widespread and common knowledge. Despite that track record, Fourrel Celestin became one of the national leaders of the ruling party, Fanmi Lavalas, President Aristide then got him elected as a senator of the South East by rigging the elections. Celestin was serving as
the president of the Haitian Senate when he was arrested by the DEA, and it was revealed that he was one of the chiefs of Aristide's cocaine operations His testimony in a Miami court against the former president led to a reduction of his sentence, but was he alone?------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Not at all. We quickly discovered that a network of officials under the protection of Aristide was involved in drug trafficking. The DEA arrested them one-by-one, including notable people such as Oriel Jean, the security chief of the Presidential Guard, who reported directly to the president. Among the others arrested were Jacques Ketant Beaudouin, one of Aristide's closest associates, Jean Anthony Nazaire, Hermionne Leonard, Yvon Feuille, Evens Brillant, Nesly Lucien, Imacula Bazile, Romaine Lestin and the list goes on. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In two short months, Haiti will organize elections for 12 senate seats. Election organization will cost the international community (mostly U.S. taxpayers) $16 million to organize -- a significant expenditure for a country with a mere $2 billion budget and many other pressing needs. I have traveled throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Afghanistan, and the Middle East to provide technical assistance for the organization of elections, and I have never heard of such an expensive election. --------------------------------------------------------------------------

More concerning is that the drug traffickers are back and looking to participate in Haiti's fragile democratic process. Almost 30% of the 105 candidates that have registered for the 12 races have been linked to involvement in drug trafficking, kidnappings, political violence, and corruption. They are identified with Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party, the UNION (a Christian party), and Lespwa, the current president's, Preval, political movement among others. Allowing those elections to occur with a corrupt candidate pool, and under the current partisan election administration authority and a corrupt political environment is a dynamic that will undoubtedly lead Haiti back to chaos. -----------------------------------------------------

Many steps can be taken to prevent this from happening, but time is short:------------

1. The government should publish the names of candidates involved in drug trafficking, kidnappings and corruption. The Provisional Electoral Council must bar them from participation in the elections as they did for the December 16, 1990 elections; -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Haitian human rights organizations should publish the names of candidates involved in political assassination, political violence, political rapes and other human rights violations; -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) should pay special attention to the use of taxpayer's money for these elections. Basic questions should be asked: How will the $16 million strengthen Haiti's electoral system? What is the background of the people involved within the election administration? Is the process is set up to be a fair contest? What are the safeguards to prevent manipulation of the results as happened in 1997 and 2000? What steps are being taken to prevent cocaine money from financing the candidates' campaigns? ------------------------------------------------

4. A series of senatorial debates should be launched to increase civil participation, which is currently absent from the process; and ------------------------------------------

5. A mission of independent electoral observers should be deployed as soon as possible to monitor the election administration and environment at least one month prior to the elections as well as on election day. They should also monitor the post electoral environment.