Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Empty Streets, Empty Boxes: Haitians Reject Manipulated Election
By: Wadner Pierre - HaitiAnalysis.com
June 20th, 2009. Haitians appeared skeptical of the recent senatorial elections.
In Gonaives, sitting in a tap tap days prior to the election, Kener Docteur told Haitianalysis "I don’t feel or see this so-called election, I am not going to vote on Sunday.” Similar attitudes were echoed in conversation after conversation. This was ever more clear listening to people on the bus traveling back and forth from Port-Au-Prince to Gonaives.
On Sunday, the day of the elections,supporters of Fanmi Lavalas’ launched a campaign, they titled “Operation Closed Doors and Empty Streets”. With such a tiny turn-out, even according to foreign observers and journalists, the Lavalas organizers are now claiming their campaign was effective. Their call for the election stems from the earlier banning of the participation in the election by the countries CEP.
Early Sunday morning ,the boulevard Jean Jacques Dessalines was completely empty. Similarly empty, Lalue, Delams 33, boulevard Toussaint Louverture and so forth. During the election day, Haitianalysis visited the biggest electoral centers such as Carrefour Airport and Nazon.
The voter boxes were practically empty. One electoral guard said ”from the time we opened until now, around 50 people came to vote,” This was similar in other places: Lycee Marie Jeanne in Turgeot, the building 2004 on Delmas 2, the Lycee Antoine and Georges Yzmery in Ti Plas Kazo, the Lycee Petion-Ville. People even nearby the voting booths told us that the election was a total shame. “There is no election today because of disqualifying of Fanmi Lavalas,” cried out a man near an electoral center.
Although, Preval voted at Lycee Marie Jeanne, he agreed that people did not turn out to vote, but argued, it was not because of the actions of politicians’, but rather that the political leaders need to ask why people did not go out to vote. Esentially he side stepped the issue of the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas.
On the other hand, Fanmi Lavalas Senator Dr. Rudy Herivaud complimented the Fanmi Lavalas’ supporters for not taking part in this so-called election, which he qualified as a exclusive poll.
A popular grassroots Fanmi Lavalas leader, Rene Civil, answered President Preval’s question. He said “People did not turn out to vote because they were excluded them from the poll, and the president has a short time to put the things in the right way, and to quickly give the date of the return of he former Fanmi Lavalas President, Dr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide,” Mr. Aristide has lived in his exile in South African since 2004, after he was forced to leave his country in Feb. 29, 2004 by U.S special forces.
Some activists from the poor neighborhoods worry of corruption in the voting process. "[t]he corruption of this process is clear, for the first senatorial round of seections [they] filled the electoral boxes with more people who were even supposed to vote at a center, and tonight they will probably do the same,” said Faubert.
In the recent second senatorial election, Haitian authorities allowed public transportation to operate, and city life often returned to normal. For example, streets merchants in Port-au-Prince, sold their products to other poor residents, such as bread, boiled eggs, bananas, little plastic bottles of water.
From Port-au-Prince to Gonaives and in some areas of the Plateau Central where Haitianalysis correspondents visited, banners and the advertisements for the recent election were often hard to find. There was nothing that motivated people in term of a electoral campaign. “ I stopped turning out to vote after 2001, I tried to do it in 2006’s election, but I did not believe that election would change anything for this country,” according to Guerda, a nurse on her way to Gonaives.
For the government bureaucrats there may be some shift in who sits in office after the recent senatorial elections (19 April and 21 June), nonetheless, people and some political leaders who followed those electoral days now claim that 95% of the population did not turn out to vote.
“There was only a selection, not an election,” said Jule, and for others, it was a way for those in the Preval/Pierre-Louis’ electoral council and the international community to make money and to continue to destroy Haiti socially and politically.
In addition, two people died in election violence, and the irregularities and the violence were observed in many departments, but lower than the first turn, in the southeast, Marigot, Jacmel, a brother of the former senator Joseph Lambert, a member of the presidential party, Lespwa arrested for driving with a loaded weapons in his car. All in all, Haitians have given little credibility or validity to recent senatorial election, and it parallels a noticeable drop in the popularity of Preval.