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#4337: Aristide's Electoral Fraud : Carey comments

From: Henry F. Chip Carey <polhfc@langate.gsu.edu>

Having had a modicum of faith in Aristide's good will for over a decade, I regret the proverbial straw has shattered the camel's back.

Exiled Provisional Electoral Council President (CEP) Leon Manus has not only accused the Palace (his son says it was Preval with Aristide on the phone line) of forcing him to certify that Fanmi Lavalas won sixteen Senate seats in the first round.  The CEP President today announced in his statement (below) that Fanmi Lavalas won no more than five Senate seats in the first round.  Aristide will not accept legal accountability, even in an election process, let alone in power.  It has become apparent and reasonable to infer now that  Aristide ordered the protests on Friday and Monday to intimidate the CEP to rig the election.  I fear that this is the worst news out of Haiti since the coup.

Here is the key phrase in the original French from Manus today:
Ainsi, les résultats définitifs pour les candidats au Sénat de la République ont vu seulement cinq sénateurs élus dès le
premier tour. La majorité de ceux-la qui venaient par la suite en tête au moment du décompte partiel devait participer à un
second tour. C'est ce qu'ont révélé le décompte final des votes et la tabulation des résultats en fonction des dispositions de la
loi électorale. 

Declaration of Léon Manus (translation)

In March 1999, after repeated and insistent requests by President Préval, and after deep reflection, I agreed with other Haitian
citizens to be a member of the latest provisional electoral council in charge of organizing free, honest and democratic national
elections for all the elected positions in Haiti except for eight incumbent senators and the president of the republic. 

Taking into account the critical situation of my country and considering that my experience and reputation as a citizen of honesty
and integrity would be able to make a difference in the organization of these elections, I agreed to come out of retirement and
serve my country, to make my contribution to what I considered and still consider a mission of the highest patriotism. When my
colleagues at the CEP accorded me the distinguished privilege of serving as president of this high-ranking institution, I made it a
point of honor not to disappoint their confidence and not to deceive the Haitian people. Unattached to any political party and
unbeholden to any clan or faction, I committed myself to service for my country. 

The problems began with the very first steps of the council. There were technical problems of administration and finances owing
to the inherent weaknesses of the electoral-institution structure which meant that we fell behind schedule. Also, even though the
CEP is an independent organization, it has to have the active cooperation of the state to carry out an important part of its
mission: budget support, access to state resources, and security arrangements for the voters and candidates. 

In reality the CEP had to face incomprehension of our mission by some, bad faith by others, and often a lack of cooperation by
the government including at the top level. Even the international assistance sought by the council was viewed with suspicion by
the government. So the environment in which the CEP had to work was often plagued with traps and attacks. The slanders and
threats came in profusion, some overt, others hidden, most often orchestrated by state actors. 

I put up with all that with serenity and patriotism. My honor and dignity were often put to the test. I always thought that if at the
end of the process my country, thanks to the work of the CEP, came out with serious and legitimate institutions, no price could
be considered too high. 

The twenty-first of May was for the CEP and the whole country a reason for great satisfaction. Against all predictions
everything happened calmly and despite certain delays and logistical problems caused by the ponderousness or newness of
certain parts of the electoral machinery, even the harshest critics, both national and foreign, had to acknowledge that the day
and the vote of May 21 was a success. Glory and honor to the Haitian people! 

However, from the day after the protests arose, placing the CEP in the crossfire between those who claimed victory and those
who cried generalized fraud. The pressures grew stronger from both sides. The truth, as always in this type of situation, was lost
in the shuffle. But the feverish passions sought to put the CEP in one camp or another when its real responsibility was to respect
the letter of the law, to follow the electoral law in all its operations including the count, the tabulation, and the legal issues up to
the announcement of the final results. 

This was all the more so because the challenges were in a good number of cases legitimate, in particular when they dealt with
the active role of elements of the police in certain acts of fraud, in the theft of ballot boxes or falsification of tally sheets during
the night and the day after the vote. 

The publication of partial results was exploited by certain people to discredit the CEP. Even the observation mission of the
OAS found it necessary to issue a warning which was interpreted in various ways. 

While maintaining our position on how this correspondence of the OAS was made public, I must acknowledge that certain of
its considerations would help improve certain technical procedures and help us recalculate the percentage of votes obtained by
the candidates in strict conformance with the stipulations of the electoral law. So the final senate tally saw only five senators
elected in the first round. The majority of those in the lead at the time of the partial count had to go to the second round. This is
what was shown by the final vote count and tabulation of the results in accordance with the electoral law. 

These are the results which as president of the CEP I intended to make public, in comformity with the provisions of the Haitian
constitution, with ethical principles and with the equity which should be the compass of government servants. In acting so I
remained true to the commitment of my honor to respect the will of the Haitian people. 

As soon as my decision was made known to the executive branch, the pressures began to be exerted ever more insistently to
turn the partial results into final ones. This despite all considerations of justice and respect for the electoral law. 

Moreover, my safety was seriously endangered because I would never agree to certify the last incorrect electoral results which
did not conform to the electoral law. At the top governmental level unequivocal messages were transmitted to me on the
consequences that would follow if I refused to publish the supposed final results. Also groups of individuals claiming to belong
to one political party began to carry out their threats to engulf the capital and provincial cities in fire and blood, destroying
everything in their path. 

They gave me an ultimatum for the immediate announcement of the results which I considered illegitimate and incorrect. I was
incapable of such an act of betrayal of my country at this decisive turn of its history. I understand that this conflict between my
legal and constitutional position and the arbitrary intransigence of state power and the fury orchestrated by certain so-called
"popular" organizations was inevitable. 

This situation left me no other choice but to temporarily leave the country to avoid the worst and restrain the storm. With no
personal interest involved, I decided to turn my back on this electoral saga while holding my head high without blemishing my
honor, my dignity, and my patriotism. 

I continue to believe in democracy which conquers dictatorship and provides human rights, liberty, the spirit of sharing and
dialogue, well-being and development. 

I know that there are vindictive people who will not accept that in this land of Haiti there are people of integrity capable of living
in dignity. They are always ready to do anything to undermine the honor of honest people. I denounce them before the
conscience of the national and international community. 

Citizens of my country, I continue to believe in the salvation of our homeland. Despite all the vicissitudes of its existence, no
people can live indefinitely in ignorance, division, insecurity, misery, and injustice. 

June 21, 2000 

Leon Manus 

Assistant Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303
tel: 404-651-4845
fax: 404-651-1434