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

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekly Haiti Electoral Update # 4 by Stanley Lucas

Earthquake victims continue to suffer… and continue to protest

The week of September 13-17 has been hard on the 1.7 million children, women, men and senior citizens victims of the earthquake that are still living in the streets. Rain has been pouring in the 1,370 camps that do not meet international standards for disaster victims. The impatience of the victims is rising. They have organized their third sit-in to protest the government inaction and inefficiency of international assistance as well the abusive expulsions from properties where they have set up camps. In absence of any official assistance or plan for the camps, where are these people supposed to go?

Preval decrees right to seize private property

Haitian human rights organizations have condemned the inhuman treatment of the earthquake victims by government officials and their associates in the business cartel known as Groupe de Bourdon for leveraging this tragic situation to enrich themselves (see: ). Preval has issued a decree (see: ) to allow the state to seize private property in Port-au-Prince commercial district. The goal of the decree is to allow the government and their associates to acquire properties and land for their personal business agenda.  The government office in charge of the issue was not aware of this decree, which violates the constitutional right of private property (see:  ). 


Meanwhile citizens in the Antibonite, considered the bread basket of the country, are facing famine (see: ). These are the conditions in which Preval and his associates are implementing what everybody is calling an electoral coup.


Growing Discontent with the CEP continues; the CEP lobbies Washington

Following a series of illegal decisions discontent against the partisan CEP continues.  Let’s recap the CEP violations:


First, the composition of the CEP does not meet the requirement of Article 289 of the constitution (see last week elections update: ). 


Second, the CEP allowed former government officials linked to corruption and drug trafficking to make the final list of presidential and legislative candidates while not providing legal explanations to legitimate candidates that meet the requirements to run, among them Mayor of Petionville Lydie Parent and Ambassador Raymond Joseph.  Around 34% of the candidates are linked to corruption and drug trafficking while Haiti has appeared again on the list of countries released by the White House and the State Department as being a major drug trafficking problem (see:  ).


Third, major coalitions, including Altenativ, Liberasyon, Fusion, UCADDE, have decided to pull out of the electoral process because of the partisanship of the CEP. The partisan CEP decided that they have no right to do so without providing a legal basis for that decision.


Fourth, the CEP remains under investigation by the ULCC, the government anti-corruption unit.  One of the charges being investigated is for the 14 million gourdes spent by the CEP president for t-shirts.


This week the CEP with the support of the Departmental and Municipal Electoral Bureaus (BED and BEC) announced they will hire thousands of people to run the polling stations.  Due to the partisanship of the BEDs and BECs people worry that supporters of the ruling party INITE would have the control of the majority of the polling stations.


Gaillot Dorsainvil, president of the CEP, was in Washington this week to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), including Chairman John Conyers, and Cara McDonald at the State Department. Dorainvil provided his “reassurances” that everything was on track with the elections. Observers found it strange that he would reassure the State Department and the CBC and not the Haitian people and various sectors of the Haitian Diaspora that believe he is in the process of rigging the elections for Preval. It appears as if the Preval team is worried about ensuring they receive the $30 million the US has promised to support the elections. If the CBC and the State Department asked the tough questions, it is unclear how he could provide any meaningful reassurances.  Meanwhile, the Haitian Diaspora have redoubled efforts to call their Representatives and Senators to urge the Congress to freeze the funding for the elections until the CEP is reformed.

Where are we supposed to vote?

The MINUSTAH launched a civic education campaign this week to inform people where they should go to register for the elections. MINUSTAH has come under fire over the past few years for spending $2.1 billion in the country with nothing to show for that investment.


Security concerns heighten scrutiny of MINUSTAH

This week Haitians have accused MINUSTAH of being responsible for the increasing insecurity in Haiti. There is a strong belief among Haitians who have seen a pattern of increasing violence in Haiti every time the renewal of the MINUSTAH mandate come up. In the popular mind, MINUSTAH is behind rising levels of violence, which are used to justify its presence. MINUSTAH Chief Edmond Mulet dismissed these claims in a press conference (see:  ).  Other analysts familiar with the country believe that the government is behind the increase of violence because they need the presence and protection of the UN forces so they can continue to focus on organizing their electoral coup. MINUSTAH is viewed as a necessary tool to prop up the government. Following the hanging of a young Haitian Gerald Jean Gilles in the MINUSTAH Nepalese camp in the north, relations between MINUSTAH and the population in that region have deteriorated.

MINUSTAH Chief Mulet heightened tensions when he sent a letter to Haitian authorities requesting that the Haitian judge cease his investigation of the murder (see: letter below and  ).  This situation has created a strong reaction among the population and the popular radio talk shows of the region.


Separately, the Haitian National Police (PNH) successfully captured two prominent gang chiefs responsible for kidnappings around the country.


Political parties hold a strategy summit

Hundreds of delegates from the countryside of four political party coalitions, Rasanble, Altenativ, Liberasyon and UCADDE, participated in a three-day convention to analyze the deteriorating situation in-country and develop solution. At the conclusion of the summit, the parties issued a resolution, which serves as a roadmap against: 1. the corruption that is undermining reconstruction; 2. future actions to stop Preval’s electoral coup; and 3. proposed the application of Article 149 of the constitution at the end of Preval’s constitutional mandate on February 7, 2011 (see: ).

Widening gap between Haitian civil society and UN and the OAS

The OAS responded to last week’s criticism by Haitian civil society with a press release (see:  ) that has angered Haitians and widened the gap between OAS, which is supporting the government’s management of the elections, and the rest of Haitian society that believes the process is being rigged while OAS has done nothing to correct the partisanship of the CEP and call out the irregularities. Haitian civil society has written a letter to the Secretary of the United Nations citing the irregularities, the manipulations and the technical realities that make it impossible to organize elections in November. Further, they advocated the postponement of the elections (see:  ).  Two days later MINUSTAH’s Mulet gave a satisfaction sheet to the government and the CEP.


Meanwhile former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has visited the country and has showed a great sense of political sensitivity toward Haitians acknowledging the  huge political and technical problems within the electoral process that need to be fixed. He did not take sides in the debate and kept his comments factual.


Exclusion and radicalization of the Diaspora

Since the exclusion of the Diaspora from Haiti’s political process, there is a strong sense of frustration and animosity toward the Haitian government, the CEP and the Groupe de Bourdon. After eight months of attempting to engage in reconstruction, various elements of Haitian Diaspora report that the Haitian Government, MINUSTAH and the Interim Reconstruction Commission have excluded Diaspora organizations and businesses from participating in the reconstruction process. Many Diaspora organizations have reached out to the offices of Senators Kerry and Lugar requesting that funds for the elections should be put on hold until irregularities are addressed. Haitian Diaspora are upset by the fact that after eight months there are still 1.7 million of their family and friends living in dangerous conditions. There are some estimates circulating that about 30,000-35,000 Haitians have died since the earthquake due to a lack of medical and humanitarian assistance.


Tentative Presidential Debates

For the past four weeks the Haitian Diaspora have organized a series of virtual presidential debates to educate Haitians in-country and in the Diaspora on the importance of debates on issues. There were three debates: one on economic issues such as job, investments, privatizations, fiscal policies, and reconstruction as a whole; one on political issues such as corruption, drug trafficking, amending the constitution, security and national sovereignty; and one on social issues such as education, access to health care, inclusion of the Diaspora, and emergency preparedness. These Diaspora virtual debates pushed Haitian civil society to organize a real debate with the candidates. Of the 19 presidential candidates only four responded. Most of the candidates close to the government linked to corruption boycotted the debate. In addition the Groupe de Bourdon used their economic monopolies to pressure radio station not to broadcast the debate and leaned on the government to shut down electricity to prevent the broadcast of the debate to the population. According to insiders, a real debate would interfere with the electoral coup. In addition analyst have learned that Groupe de Bourdon has scheduled their own debate with the candidates under the banner of an “economic forum”. When analysts found that Groupe de Bourdon had already provided the questions in advance to their chosen candidate, they had to back track and announce that the questions would be provided to all candidates. For information on both virtual and live debates see:



The environment in Haiti is uncertain and dangerous. In the near term, more complications will arise with the reopening of the schools. No efforts have been made to address the issues raised by various sectors of Haitian society. Valid questions based in constitutional law have been completely dismissed.  The disconnect between the international community and the valid concerns on the ground is spiraling into a perception that they are in cahoots with the government in the election rigging. And the international community has done nothing yet to dispel these perceptions.  The only thing that is certain is that uncertainty will prevail over the next 45 days.


For more information, please, contact:

Stanley Lucas

Washington Democracy Project

(202) 256-6026