Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haiti: US Congress members warn Clinton to include Lavalas in elections

By Randall White,

Port au Prince, Haiti — “President John Kennedy famously remarked, ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.’ Running transparently unfair, exclusive elections, with the support of the international community, will leave many Haitians to conclude that they have no choice but to protest the elections and the consequent government through social disruption. That disruption threatens to severely limit such a government’s ability to govern, and imperils the United States’ past and future investments in Haiti’s reconstruction.”

– Urge Secretary Clinton to Support Free, Fair and Inclusive Elections in Haiti
Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

After being virtually silent on electoral justice in Haiti since 2005, Congresswoman Maxine Waters is now attempting to get her colleagues to sign on to a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to withhold US funding for the November 28 presidential and parliamentary elections in Haiti that are designed exclude the largest political organization in the country.

In a recent OpEd in the Miami Herald former Counsel to the President of Haiti, Ira Kurzban wrote:

“Imagine if the Federal Election Commission in the United States disqualified the Democratic and Republican parties from the 2012 presidential election and declared that only candidates of minor parties could run. No one would consider it a fair election, and certainly the people of the United States would rise up, claiming the election is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

Yet the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Haiti on Nov. 28 are just that — unfair, unconstitutional and undemocratic. The country’s Provisional Electoral Council, which itself is not constitutionally composed, is refusing to allow the country’s majority party — Famni Lavalas (Lavalas Family) — to participate in the election. Thirteen other legitimate political parties are also being excluded from parliamentary elections.

In a June 10 report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, — Haiti: No Leadership – No Elections — Ranking Member , Richard Lugar pointed out the systemic injustice of excluding the Fanmi Lavalas political organization. While the intent of the report was to avoid delay and encourage President Préval to formally schedule the elections on November 28, the report pointed out that there were several hurdles to free, fair and democratic elections. Including the Fanmi Lavalas Political organization was considered key to achieving real democracy and avoiding potentially violent chaos.

An International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) “…assessment noted that the operational arm of the CEP was technically capable of organizing elections but argued that ‘giving the mandate of organizing the upcoming elections to the current CEP would mean that the electoral process will be considered flawed and questionable from the beginning.'”

Both the US Senate report and the US House letter point out that the current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) hand-selected by Préval is unsuitable and must be replaced before the election process could begin. Préval refused to reconstitute the CEP, but scheduled the elections, with the tacit support of the Obama Administration and the “International Community” with the duplicitous premise that they were needed to stabilize the country in the aftermath of the January 12 Earthquake.

Last year — on February 6 — President Préval met with Hillary Clinton in Washington DC, the next day Fanmi Lavalas was banned from the April 19 Senate elections. Fanmi Lavalas was contacted to meet on March 4, 2009 with a high profile delegation — UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon, Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — but the meeting was cancelled. When Moon and Clinton did arrive the following week they avoided any meeting with Fanmi Lavalas with the assistance of the US Embassy staff. Lavalas then called for a boycott of the primary election.

The USA put $17 million into the primary and the UN plastered the Lavalas strongholds with posters warning the pro-democracy supporters that “more hunger and more violence” would be the result if the People of Haiti honored the Fanmi Lavalas boycott. Less than 3% of the electorate participated in the election. The US media spin was that the elections were a resounding “success for democracy.”

For the runoff in June, just about the only voters were the election workers themselves who were required to vote if they wanted to get paid for their day of “work.”

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