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#4600: Not from The Miami Herald by Charles Arthur (fwd)

From: Charles Arthur <charlesarthur@hotmail.com>

Not published Tuesday, July 11, 2000, in The Miami Herald

Haiti's disappointing elections
The international community could have accepted the Haitian
elections without interfering

Disappointing is the word that best describes the international
community's refusal to accept the second-round of voting in Haiti's
parliamentary elections last Sunday. In questioning the legitimacy of the 
elections, the international community is again testing the patience of the 
Haitian people who have tried time and again to establish an electoral 
democracy. Each attempt has been thwarted by attacks on voters (1987), a 
military coup d'etat (1991), or more recently by the venal politics of a 
deeply unpopular group of opposition parties with the support of the United 
States and its allies.

Yet it is the people of Haiti, this hemisphere's poorest nation, who suffer 
the consequences. For that reason, the Haitian government -- as
well as Fanmi Lavalas and its supporters -- should quell their anger and 
remain patient.

Hopes for this tortured country's first serious experience with
democracy (shouldn't that be third to include the elections in 1990, and 
1995? Ed.) seemed promising last May 21 during the initial election when 
exuberant crowds turned out to fill offices ranging from rural councils to 
the national Senate. Most observers were encouraged that Haiti soon would 
have a functioning government capable of investing $500 million in foreign 
aid that now sits idle.

But those hopes were dashed in recent weeks as the leaders of
Haiti's centre-right parties and the OAS mission, refused to accept the 
landlside victory of the largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas, headed by 
former President Aristide, and insisted that some of its Senate candidates 
should face run-off challenges.

Where the country's independent electoral council had awarded the party's 
candidates 16 of the Senate's 19 contested seats, the OAS
declared only 11 had been won, and unilaterally called for runoffs. As a 
result, the electoral council denounced foreign interference. Now the 
Haitian government, and the majority of the Haitian people are urging the 
international community to respect the result of the elections, and allow a 
new government to begin its administration. The OAS should swallow its pride 
and agree.

The paradox in this is that if certain members of the international 
community had not interfered in the political process, the democratic
credentials of the opposition parties would not have been so badly eroded, 
and more of the electorate would have voted for some candidates other than 
those of Fanmi Lavalas. Now Fanmi Lavalas enjoys a vise grip on Haitian 
politics. Its party members will control Parliament as well as most 
mayoralties and rural councils. How heartening it would be had the other 
parties gained sufficient support to win more seats freely and fairly.

The dilemma now faced by the Haitian people is whether they should continue 
to try to satisfy the international community, even if the
oppostion parties refuse to accept their electoral defeat.

Sadly, there may be no alternative but to accept the reality that in Haiti a 
little bit of foreign interference is preferable to a civil war.
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