The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12 resulted in devastating losses to the Haitian people, but it also destroyed the weak electoral infrastructure of the country. The headquarters of Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) was destroyed along with 66% of the polling stations. Approximately two million voters (out of 4.6 million) lost their electoral cards, national identity cards and birth certificate.
Even before the earthquake, Haitian political parties, civil society, voters, and the Diaspora perceived the CEP as partisan. There is overwhelming evidence that the current CEP manipulated the results of the senatorial elections in favor of President Rene Preval ruling party in 2009. The turnout was a mere 2.6% because voters knew Preval was manipulating results. The former Vice President of the CEP, Rodol Pierre confirmed the manipulation and resigned in protest. The partisanship of the CEP resulted into political violence in 2009.
Despite protests by the parties and civil society, Preval has maintained the current partisan composition of the CEP.
The United States provides 85% of the funding for Haiti’s elections. Despite calls from Senator Richard Lugar to revamp the CEP, Preval has steadfastly resisted any changes to the CEP – or the local BEDs and BECs – and has proceeded to put in place the structure to implement an electoral coup. Senator Lugar based his recommendations on an electoral evaluation made by IFES and his staff’s assessment mission to Haiti.
Preval has already a poor record on democracy and elections in Haiti see: http://solutionshaiti.blogspot.com/2008/01/president-rene-prevals-questionable.html . Because of Preval, four past elections have been rigged. Haitians overwhelmingly do not believe that elections will take place in November. Citizens are bracing for a confrontation with Preval and his partisan CEP.
Preval is worried about a potential uprising of the population against his electoral coup, his Administration’s gross mismanagement of the country and rampant corruption. This week, he dispatched his wife to Washington to lobby the Administration and Congress and reassure them that proper and democratic conditions exist for an election. In effect, this was merely another move to secure his coup and ensure that he ascends to “Putinesque” stature in Haiti. He is also counting on MINUSTAH military force for the implementation of the electoral coup.
Illegal Composition of the CEP
We learned this week that of the nine sectors to be represented on the CEP, only three have representation. This is a clear violation of Article 289 of the Constitution, which sets out the nine sectors. Notably, this formulation was created by President Preval who now refuses to adhere to this guideline and steadfastly supports the partisan CEP.
Further, members of the CEP are under official investigation by the corruption unit of country (ULCC). Enel Desir, a member of the CEP, has already resigned and issued a seven-page report chronicling several specific acts of corruption by the CEP members see:
92% Believe Preval is Organizing a Coup
A new poll shows that only 8% of Haitians believe that the current CEP will organize free and fair elections while 92% believe that they are organizing an electoral coup for Preval.
Voter Registration Chaos
Almost 45% of Haitian voters lost their electoral cards in the earthquake. Article 31 of the Voter Law makes voter registration cards mandatory. The CEP has yet to provide information to these voters – and to new voters – on how and where to obtain their new cards. An IFES report noted that there was no physical way the CEP had the capacity to reissue this number of cards. The National Office of Identification (ONI), run by the OAS, received this week materials to print 150,000 electoral cards. Currently, ONI has 141 registration offices around the country, which is insufficient (by contrast, Haiti had 800 offices for the 1995 elections). Furthermore, there have been no civic education efforts to publicize where the offices are so no one even knows where to go.
The CEP has also not addressed the death of 220,000 voters. Electoral lists have not been updated with the loss of these voters opening the door to massive voter fraud.
CEP Approves Corrupt Officials and Human Rights Violators
The CEP disqualified 15 candidates and allowed 19 to run for President. The decision seems to be politically motivated as no legal basis was provided for the disqualifications of many of the candidates. Of the 19 allowed to run, 14 are affiliated with the ruling party and nine have been linked to corruption. The constitution and Haiti’s laws prohibit such individuals from running.
The following is the list of Presidential and Legislative candidates: http://www.haitielections2010.com/candidats.php
The following is a human rights report detailing several candidates’ abuses: http://rnddh.org/article.php3?id_article=403&var_recherche=+Le+RNDDH+invite+le+CEP+%E0+faire+une+stricte+application+de+la+loi+%E9lectorale+pour+%E9viter+de+transformer+le+S%E9nat+de+la+R%E9publique+en+un+rep%E8re+de+bandits
Essentially, corruptors, drug dealers, and human rights violators are running for office in Haiti, supported by U.S. taxpayer’s money.
Political Parties Boycott
The Organization of the People in Struggle (OPL), Rasanble, Fusion, Altenativ, MDN and other major political parties announced a boycott of the elections this week. Other parties have chosen to fight the electoral coup, among them are COREH, RDNP and others. Consultations among parties continues while they determine the best strategy to fight the electoral coup.
Civil Society Skeptics
Deliberations are underway this week among unions, peasant, youth, women organizations and others on the best way to confront the electoral coup. Most organizations of civil society have expressed varying levels of skepticism. Students remain by far the most active against what they call the electoral coup. Women organizations remained divided. Of the 40 key women’s organizations, five are supportive of the elections. These five are linked to the Minister of Women Affairs from which they receive the majority of their resources.
The security situation deteriorated measurably this week is up 33%. Security threats are mainly political as the ruling party increases the level of violence to intimidate voters and political actors. Gangs involved in kidnappings, drug trafficking and other violence are mainly linked to the people in power. The testimony of gangs members that were involved in kidnappings and political killings reveals that every time they returned their arms to the government disarmament commission (CNDDR) they were redistributed by the same people (see: http://lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=&ArticleID=76321 )
Media Black Out
The state run media outlets have barred all candidates, except for Preval favorite Jude Celestin, to participate in popular radio and television programs. For media outside the state run sector, the Groupe de Bourdon business cartel has put revenue pressure on the radio and TV stations to support only Celestin or face them pulling their ad support. This Groupe controls at least 90% of the economic activity on the island so media outlets would face financial ruin if they speak to other candidates. Still, several popular radio stations are steadfastly resisting the economic bullying.
State Resources Funneled to Favored Candidates
Preval has instructed ministries and official state organs to use state resources and funding to support the favored candidates. About 85% of the state resources are going to Jude Celestin.
Former Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis (fired by parliament in 2008 for corruption and incompetence) is using the current Minister of the Interior, Paul Antoine Bien Aime (a relative of Alexis), and his friends Minister of Finance Ronald Baudin and Minister of Agriculture Jonas Gue to get access to State resources. However, a rift that was created with Minister of Social Affairs and presidential candidate Yves Cristallin when Alexis asked Ronald Baudin to cut Cristallin’s funding at the Social Affairs Ministry. Cristallin will resign this week.
Under pressure resulting from the realization that 14 of the presidential candidates are linked to the ruling party, the Minister of Finance announced this week that he would provide general funding for all presidential candidates.
Humanitarian Aid as a campaign tool?
The use of humanitarian funds and aid to support candidates has become an issue. With the rejection of Wyclef Jean’s candidacy this week, several began asking where he got the money to run in the first place? Other highly partisan aid organizations, including Paul Farmer (deputy UN Special Envoy under Clinton) collected an estimated $100 million for his foundation. Brian Concannon of the Celebrity Telethon has also come under fire for funneling funds to groups known to have political ties with them. The debate has been raging in the Diaspora community this week as people begin to see hints that aid will go to supporting favorite candidates faster than it will get to the people in need.
OAS Observation Mission Says Everything is OK?
The official “International Observation Mission” is already in-country. The mission is comprised of representatives from the OAS and CARICOM. They have been surprisingly silent on all the controversy surrounding the elections. OAS Secretary Miguel Insulza after his visit this week in Haiti stated that the process was acceptable to him. This statement created a strong backlash in various sectors of Haitian society and the Diaspora community. Political parties and civil society groups have condemned Secretary Insulza’s statement that seems to give a blank check to Preval’s Electoral coup (see:
Diaspora Organize their own Observation Mission
The Haitian Diaspora is organizing a mission to evaluate the electoral process and will brief the United States Congress on their findings. Several groups of the Haitian Diaspora have already called on Congress to hold the US$40 million funding for the elections until the CEP and local electoral authorities are reorganized.
For more information, please, contact:
Stanley Lucas, Washington Democracy Project, firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 256-6026 For last week report see: