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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Haiti Post Runoff Electoral Update # 2 by Stanley Lucas

Two weeks after Haitians went to polls to vote in the Presidential and Legislative runoff election in what appeared to be a peaceful and fair process, uncertainty remains. Given the recent announcement postponing the official results due to the detection of fraudulent tally sheets, there is a growing perception among the people that Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) is trying to fix the results at the instruction of President Preval and his ruling party INITE instructions. The unresolved elections have the potential to create serious political instability. Since Monday, March 28 the word on the street was that Preval had given the CEP instructions to slowdown the counting process so they could find ways to rig the elections. The March 20 election day was a success; voters were able to cast their ballots, and the elections happened without serious violence. But it seems President Preval will not deviate from his 20 year pattern of rigging and stealing elections as he did in 1997, 2000 and 2009. His efforts to undermine the electoral process in those elections led to a huge political crisis, and he failed in his aim to maintain power. During the first round of presidential and legislative elections last November, he tried to rig the results in favor of his chosen presidential candidate, Jude Celestin; he failed. Now it seems that is failing again in trying to change the runoff results so he’s stalling.

President Rene Preval
The lame duck president spent two weeks in Cuba for “treatment”. In reality, he was organizing Jean Bertrand Aristide’s return hoping to destabilize the electoral process. They quickly learned that Aristide’s influence and impact on Haitian society had dwindled to merely a few supporters. To gain more support, they will likely resort to spreading around money and arming their thugs. With the failure of Aristide to undermine the elections, Preval’s current goal is to manipulate the results in favor of his party and political allies. In conversations with his INITE operatives, Preval has been making the ludicrous claim that the US State Department sanctioned his manipulation of these elections. He says the State Department told him to do what he wants to with the elections. 

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)

The CEP is under pressure from Preval and his allies to change the results.  They are also under pressure from the Haitian people who are ready to take the streets to defend their vote. Members of CEP remember what happened back in November when the Haitian people took the streets on December 7 to reject the blatant manipulation of the results in favor of Preval and INITE. Preval almost resigned. The CEP and members of the ruling party were nowhere to be found; they were all in hiding.

So the CEP’s new strategy is to claim fraud and annul tally sheets that are not in favor of the ruling party candidates. They have annulled 20% of the tally sheets so far; however, the ruling party candidates still cannot win because of the wide margins in favor of the opposition candidates. Faced with that reality, the CEP postponed the released of the results that were scheduled for March 31 until April 4 claiming that they have to deal with the fraudulent tallies. In reality they are just buying time to determine ways to manipulate the process at the tabulation center, see: .

At the same time the CEP is trying to ban the publication of partial results of the elections using a misinterpretation of the Electoral Law. The Electoral Law actually requires that each polling station publicly post the results at the polling station immediately after closing of the polls and the counting of the results. Most observers conclude that the CEP’s efforts to silence the press tipped off the Haitian people to their true intentions to block transparency so they could manipulate the tally sheets. The publication of the partial results by municipalities would make it impossible for the CEP to change the results at the tabulation center. The comparison of the copy of the tally sheets of the polling stations with the originals that went to the tabulation center were instrumental in verifying the manipulation of the results by the CEP at the tabulation center in the first round. The following pictures show how the CEP changed the results on the original tally sheets from 11 (shown on the original copy at the polling station) to 111 votes (at the polling station) for the ruling party.
    Click on picture to enlarge

 Counting the results
The tabulation center has put aside more than 20% of the tally sheets claiming that they were subject to fraud. But domestic observers disagree. The Haitian Research Center for Social Studies (CERESS) said that the system put in place by the CEP at the tabulation center has been opaque, and it is impossible to verify why the tally sheets are being put aside. They can only deduce that its for partisan reasons. The CEP is preventing observers from verifying the tally sheets that have been eliminated, see:

Meanwhile a parallel count by civil society groups reveal that Michel Martelly won the elections by a significant margin over Mirlande Manigat, and the Social Democrat Coalition Alternativ is emerging as the big winner of the legislative elections (see partial results below). People attributed Manigat’s loss to the alliance she made in the final week of the campaign with the ruling party INITE. Two Preval cabinet members, Marie Laurence Lassegue and Marjorie Michel, endorsed her and an INITE senator campaigned for her in the North.
    Click on picture to enlarge

Security, Violence and Narco traffickers
The INITE ruling party is trying to impose its will through violence and the manipulation and politicization of the judicial system.  A number of political appointees have been named Justice of the Peace by the Ministry of Justice in an effort to support INITE at the local level in their quest to manipulate the elections and protect their perpetrators of violence. Violence has been perpetrated by INITE in the following departments: Grand Anse, Artibonite, Central Plateau and Northwest. INITE senators that have track records implicating them in cocaine trafficking in Tiburon and in Port de Paix are also involved.

Jean Claude Duvalier and Jean Bertrand Aristide
Haitian state institutions have issued official corruption reports on both Jean Claude Duvalier and Jean Bertrand Aristide detailing the funds they stole from the Haitian state. According to these records, Duvalier stole $200-600 million over 14 years and Aristide $350 million in nine years.  Aristide and Duvalier are also implicated in human rights violations including the killing and “necklacing” of political opponents. Both men have used the stolen funds to employ a cadre of American lobbyists that received millions of dollars in retainer fees and the promise of lucrative reconstruction contracts in exchange for reshaping their images. Duvalier employed former representative Bob Barr, and Aristide has former representative Ron Daniel, lawyer Ira Kurzban, and others who made millions with him when he was in power. Both men represent a threat to democracy and stability in Haiti. Haiti’s Attorney General has served notice to Duvalier that he will be tried for his crimes. Nobody knows yet when Aristide will be served. Haitians will insist that justice be served once and for all. 
    Click on picture to enlarge

 Inauguration and Challenges
The President of Haiti should have been sworn on February 7; so we are already two months behind schedule. Haitians want that the new president sworn in two days after the publication of the results so that he can get to work immediately. The hurricane season, which starts on June 1, poses an imminent threat. Additionally, there are still 1.7 million people living on the street since the January 12, 2010 earthquake. The cholera epidemic continues to threaten the population resulting in 7,500 dead and 200,000 contaminated so far. Cholera will spread in the fast approaching rainy season, It is estimated that 800,000 people could be contaminated if nothing is done. There has also been a marked rise of food and oil prices that need urgent attention and solutions. The challenges facing the Haitian people are enormous. And, as usual, Preval remains steadfastly focused on how to retain power, which he has proven to only use to enrich himself and his allies rather than provide any improvement to the lives of the Haitian people. The votes reflect that. Time for Preval to realize the jig is up.

No comments: