"Justice. Verite. Independance."
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
April 29 - May 5, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 41
by Kim Ives
None of the 78 candidates who ran for 12 of the Haitian Senate's 30 seats on April 19 won in the first round, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on Apr. 27. The CEP also said that the elections, which were boycotted by Haiti's largest party, the Lavalas Family (FL), had a voter participation of 11.3 %, an assertion many voters and observers question.
"The figures the CEP give are a joke," said former FL deputy James Derosin, who helped to organize the party's "Operation Closed Doors, Empty Streets" on election day. "It's a fabrication because everybody observed that less than 1% of voters participated."
The nine-member CEP disqualified the Lavalas Family from participating in the Apr. 19 elections on the grounds that the party's leader, exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, did not sign FL candidates' registration papers (see Haiti Liberté, Vol. 2, No. 31, 2/18/2009).
According to the CEP, 438,624 voters went to the polls from about 3.7 million enrolled nationwide.
In Port-au-Prince, the CEP claims that 49,522 people voted, with 41,688 valid votes, 3,243 blank ballots, and 4,591 flawed ballots. Even those widely disbelieved figures would indicate that less that 2% of the capital's 3 million people turned out.
Some politicians, such as the FL's Annette "So An" Auguste and Mirlande Manigat of the Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP), called on Haitians to vote but to cast blank ballots. (Other FL leaders and base organizations disavowed Auguste's call, insisting on a complete boycott.)
The Lavalas Family Committee of the Haitian Diaspora wrote in a letter to Haiti's Senate that "the majority had to impose its right of veto on these anti-democratic elections."
Charging that less than 1.5% of the population voted, the Committee said that "only the mercenaries in the polling places voted on Apr. 19 by stuffing the ballot boxes with false ballots." It called on the senators to "forbid the integration of the pseudo-senators in the Republic's Senate so as to safeguard the constitutional victories of the Haitian people, and this will be justice."
The CEP said that 11 run-offs will be held on Jun. 7. The Center Department, whose voting was cancelled on Apr. 19 after violence flared there, would rerun its first round on that date.
"As far as the people are concerned, there was no election, no first round," Derosin said. "If there was no first round, there can be no second round. But if they persist, we will have to launch Operation Closed Doors Number Two."
President René Préval's party Lespwa (Hope) is in all 11 of the run-offs. A candidate needs 50% of the vote plus one vote minimum to win the seat.
The second rounds scheduled for Jun. 7 will pit the following candidates and parties against each other in 9 departments:
West: John Joel Joseph (LESPWA/29.31%) vs. Mario Viau (UNION/12.56%).
South East: Wencesclass Lambert (LESPWA/49.06%) vs. Pierre Ricard (OPL/43.19%).
South: Laguerre Joseph Benoit (UCADDE/27.97%) vs. Exilus Pierre Francky (LESWPA/22.70%).
North: Moise Jean Charles (LESPWA/49.49%) vs. Laguerre Jean Jacques René (MODELH-PRDH/21.86%)
Northwest: Hyppolite Melius (OPL/34.93 %) vs. Sainvil Francois Lucas (LESPWA/29.29 %).
Grande-Anse: Jean Maxime Roumer (LESPWA/38.67%) vs. Bellefleur Marie-Aurore Lainé (FUSION/22.06%).
Nippes: Jean William Jeanty (KONBA/23.95%) vs. Vilson Louberson (LESPWA/16.50%).
In two departments, two senators will be elected, resulting in run-offs of four candidates.
Artibonite: Anick Joseph Francois (OPL/26.22%), Jean Baptiste Jean Willy (AAA/22.29%), Paul André Garconnet (LESPWA/14.54%) and Michelet Louis (Indépendant/13.74%)
Northeast: Pierre Louis Lucien Derex (LESPWA/24.48%), Jean Rodolphe Joazile (Fusion/18.54%), Charles Pierre Jacques André Karl (OPL/13.20%) and Joachim Armand (OPL/11.90 %).
Meanwhile, even senators from parties that participated in the Apr. 19 polling are taking a distance from the vote in the face of widespread popular outrage. A group of prominent senators have called the election a "farce" and vowed to block the seating of any candidates emanating from this set of partial Senate elections. Sen. Evaliere Beauplan (Pont Nord/Northwest), the spokesman for the group, said that the senators would make sure that the "impostors" could "not validate their power." The group also includes Fritz Carlos Lebon (Union/Sud), Edmonde Supplice Beauzile (Fusion/Center), Eddy Bastien (Alliance/Northwest), Rudy Hériveaux (Lavalas/West) and Jean Hector Anacacis (Lespwa/West).
Beauplan said that the senators "refuse to accept what happened on April 19" and proposed that well-organized inclusive elections be held in November when other parliamentary contests are due. He also called on Préval to apologize to the Haitian people for the fiasco.
According to Andris Riché (OPL/Grande Anse), the Senate's vice-President, "the Apr. 19 elections were a complete waste." The elections cost some $16 million to hold.
Even senators who accepted the principle of the exclusionary elections are complaining. "People voted in exchange for money and food," griped Senator Nenel Cassy (Lespwa/Nippes). "This is bribery that reversed the voting trend in the Nippes department."
The Organization of American States (OAS), representing, as usual, Washington's position, worked hard at damage-control after the election. In an Apr. 21 press release, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza called the elections "part of an invigorated and persistent democratic exercise of the government of President René Préval, contributing to the institutional consolidation of that country."
The OAS asserted that the elections "were well-organized during the opening and closing of the voting centers, and in the distribution of government-issued registration cards, as well as in the presence of security forces that helped maintain order." Security maintenance was helped by the fact that most voting stations were all but empty of voters.
Insulza feigned ignorance of the massive boycott, attempting to attribute low voter turnout to apathy. "Indifference is harmful for a democratic process that requires a strong interaction between political actors and governments," he said. He also pointed to the "the normality that characterized the voting process and the propriety at the polling centers," as if a 1% turnout was normal or would sully a voting station.
To further underscore the foreign hand guiding Haiti's supposedly sovereign elections, Hédi Annabi, the head of the occupation force known as the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), inspected the OAS-provided Tabulation Center where votes were counted.
MARIO JOSEPH AND BRIAN CONCANNON TO SPEAK IN NY METRO AREA
Mario Joseph, Haiti's most prominent human rights lawyer, and Brian Concannon, a U.S. lawyer who spent nine years in Haiti, will discuss the fight for justice for poor Haitians in three different events around the New York metropolitan area next week. Joseph, who heads the Office of International Lawyers (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, and Concannon, who heads the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), will explain how this fight is waged in Haiti, one of the poorest and most inequitable countries in the world. They will also lay out how powerful countries like the U.S. have undermined justice and democracy in Haiti by imposing economic policies and deposing uncooperative Haitian governments.
All events are free and open to the public.
MONDAY, MAY 4, 2009
"Two Lawyers Working on the Front Lines for the Rule of Law in Haiti"
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Alan V. Lowenstein Conference Center
65 Livingston Avenue
Roseland, New Jersey 07068
Sponsored by Seton Hall Law School.
Please RSVP by April 29, 2009
to firstname.lastname@example.org or 530.219.0971
WEDNESDAY, MAY 6, 2009
Meeting with the New York Haitian Community
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Haiti Liberté Newspaper
1583 Albany Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210
Sponsored by Haiti Liberté
THURSDAY, MAY 7, 2009
"Fighting for Justice in Haiti"
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
New York University School of Law, Furman Hall, Room 212
245 Sullivan Street, between West 4th and West 3rd Streets
New York, NY
Sponsored by the National Conference of Black Lawyers & the National Lawyers Guild
(A photo ID is required to enter the building.)
All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.