Given the fast developments related to President Preval’s efforts to solidify an electoral coup on November 28, I’m launching a new feature on my blog in which I will provide weekly updates on the government’s actions in the run up to Haiti’s elections. This is a follow up series to my article about the potential for the US to waste their funding in this election, which is certain to result in a Preval-masterminded coup (see: http://solutionshaiti.blogspot.com/2010/08/will-us-act-to-promote-free-and-fair.html ).
Diaspora candidates rejected; corrupt former officials accepted
· This week, the partisan CEP rejected 15 Presidential candidates and approved 19. No official reason for rejection was given to the rejected candidates, which included all four Diaspora candidates. Observers in Haiti note that the current government fears the Diaspora returning to Haiti to restore order and build capacity. Their concerns are reinforced by the business cartel, Group de Bourdon, which controls 90% of Haiti’s economy and is protected by the Preval Administration. The Groupe is fearful of the Diaspora repatriating to participate in and jumpstart economic competition and development.
Of the 19 approved candidates, 14 have close ties to the ruling Party and a few others are rumored to have paid kickbacks to the CEP for approval. The majority of the14 with close ties also have served in the Haitian government and managed state funds. All of them have been linked to corruption, and not one of them has the required “discharge” paperwork certifying that they did not mismanage those state funds. These reports are required by the Constitution and issued by the Parliamentary Discharge Bicameral Commission.
· By accepting candidates linked to corruption, the CEP is reaffirming its partisanship and reinforcing the belief that they are completely unable to preside over a free and fair election.
Preval puts in place local operatives
· While everyone was busy watching the World Cup, the CEP – working in conjunction with President Preval – ramped up the local presence of the Inite party members in both the electoral and municipal electoral bureaus. While the exact number of appointees is unknown, there are reports that new Inite operatives have been appointed to each of the 10 departmental bureaus and each of the 140 municipal bureaus. This new bureau personnel will impact every single polling station throughout the country as they have direct responsibility for hiring poll workers.
· In addition to the electoral bureau representatives, Preval appointed a slew of new delegues, or Presidential appointees to the local levels who possess executive powers over all the local branches of the central ministries. Preval replaced about 40% of the current delegues to ensure loyalty to his goals and to Inite. The delegues have also received arms and money to support their colleagues from the Inite party in the electoral bureaus to support the electoral coup by any means necessary. The delegues have a tremendous amount of power as the Presidential representatives. They oversee local offices of all the ministries, police and influence over judiciary. They will use their influence to silence any opposition.
· Their tactic will be to change the results at the polling station after the polls close. Part of the plan is to pre-stuff ballot boxes one or two days prior to election day so they are ready to be swapped out at the polling sites. The overall goal is to secure a 2/3rd majority for Inite in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies as well as retain the Presidency. Preval envisions serving as a “Putinesque” Prime Minister. This situation will allow them to amend the constitution at will.
Little confidence in the international observation missions
· The official “International Observation Mission” is already in-country. The mission is comprised of representatives from the OAS and CARICOM. The head of this mission, Ambassador Colin Granderson, has a controversial track record in Haiti and has been strongly criticized for his partisanship by various actors in the political parties, civil society and media, including the most popular radio station in Haiti, Radio Caraibes.
· The perception among Haitians is that the international mission will merely rubberstamp the election results in the name of stability. Some observers even view them as a rubberstamp for Preval.
· For their part, they have done nothing to dispel this criticism. Since their arrival in Haiti, they have remained completely silent on the growing concerns about a Preval electoral coup, the well-documented partisanship of the CEP and the recent controversial rejection of candidates in violation of the constitution. Their actions are a stark contrast to Senator Lugar’s calls for a restructuring of the partisan CEP.
· Until now, Preval has essentially thumbed his nose at Senator Lugar’s calls for free and fair elections and ramped up efforts to put in place an electoral coup that is reminiscent of President Fujimori in Peru. Hopefully, Senator Lugar and others in the US Congress and Administration will keep close tabs on the developing situation. The US Government provides $30 million in funding for the elections, and it would be devastating to see that much needed funding go to waste in a sham election that will create more instability and complicate the reconstruction process.