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#4593: This Week in Haiti 18:17 7/12/00 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
July 12 - 18, 2000
Vol. 18, No. 17
WITH SECOND ROUND, HAITI BLOWS OFF FOREIGN BLUSTER
There is a Creole proverb: "The dogs bark, the caravan passes
That pretty much sums up the past week in Haiti. Despite a
constant cacophony of complaints from followerless politicians
and their foreign political allies, the Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP) held nationwide run-offs for municipal and
legislative posts on Jul. 9 with a minimum of violence and
There was also a minimum of participation, ranging between 10%
and 40% in different regions of the country, down from over 60%
participation in the first round held on May 21. Traditionally,
the turn-out for second rounds in Haiti has always been low.
The inertia was compounded this time by the lack of any voter
mobilization for the runoffs and the assumption by many voters
that they had already succeeded in voting in the Lavalas Family
(FL), the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
into office. Indeed, in the first round, the FL had already
captured 16 of 19 available Senate seats, 26 of 83 Deputy
seats, 89 of 115 mayoral posts, and 321 of 485 town and rural
But many runoffs were held, despite a boycott declared by the
leaders of "opposition" parties. Most local "opposition"
candidates renounced the pull-out directive, revealing motley
allegiances. "We prepared for these elections using our own
means to campaign, we wish at all costs to defend the cause of
our supporters and no one can prevent us [from participating],"
said candidate Denis St. Fort of the Espace de Concertation,
according to the Haitian Press Agency. Only six out of over 90
opposition candidates running publicly asked the CEP to be
disqualified, and they did so only verbally, not in writing,
the CEP's Operations Director Luciano Pharaon told the AP.
(Runoffs will be held later in a few scattered localities like
the Grand'Anse, Borgne, Port Margot, Cayes-Jacmel, and
A boycott by electoral observers was also thwarted. Although
the U.S.-aligned leadership of the National Council of
Electoral Observers (CNO) said it would not participate in the
second round, several groups making up the electoral coaliton
did, including KOZEPEP, UNIRED, CEDOM, and the Haitian Human
The OAS Electoral Observation mission also abstained from
witnessing the elections because the CEP would not follow its
dictates about how to calculate the percentages of some winning
Senators. Last week, the CEP issued a lengthy public report
explaining the logic and methodology behind its calculations.
In another electoral skirmish, Departmental Electoral Bureau
(BED) directors, all "opposition" appointees, resigned in the
North, Center, Grand'Anse, and Northwest departments.
Despite a corporate press campaign aimed at vilifying it, the
government of President René Préval has remained rather
tolerant in the face of growing provocations from right-wing
parties which have huddled themselves into a new alliance
called the Democratic Convergence. "We must overthrow this
lumpen government," shouted Reynold Georges, a Convergence
spokesman, when the government swore in three new members to
the CEP on Jul.7 to replace those that resigned three weeks ago
(see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 18 No. 14, 6/21/00). The Convergence
advocates the "Zero Option," which calls for uprooting Préval
and the CEP and holding new presidential elections without
Such verbal aggressivity may be linked to the spike in violence
in the days preceding the elections. For example, in
Cornillon, armed right-wing partisans attacked Franckel Norvil,
an elected rural council member (ASEC) from the FL, hacking his
face, ears, and arms with machetes, leaving him in critical
condition. At the same time, they wounded another FL party
member Raoul Joseph. Meanwhile, on the Ile à Vâche, an island
off the southern city of Les Cayes, "opposition" partisans
killed two FL members and burned down several houses, according
to FL Senator-elect Yvon Neptune.
During election day, some trouble-makers threw up burning-tire
barricades in the Artibonite, telling people to stay home; an
opposition candidate reportedly burned some election materials
in Grande Saline; some election observers were roughed up in
Marchand Dessalines; there were some scuffles in the Northeast.
The day of and after elections, police arrested about 30 people
for disrupting the elections. But generally, the country was
Ironically the picture one gets from the Jun. 30 U.S. Senate
Concurrent Resolution 126, introduced by the infamous Sen.
Jesse Helms (R-NC), turns the situation on its head. After a
litany of opposition-inspired "whereases" which paint the
government and FL as aggressors, the non-binding resolution
"condemns the electoral fraud being perpetrated against the
Haitian people," commands the Haitian government "to end its
manipulation of the electoral process and take immediate steps
to reverse the fraudulent results announced by the remaining
[CEP] members, " and "urges the Organization of American States
(OAS) to consider joint actions by its members states to bring
about a return to democracy in Haiti."
When asked about the resolution on his Jul. 5 return from the
three-day CARICOM summit in Trinidad, Préval said "I don't have
to respond to what the U.S. Congress says." He also pointed out
that "a democracy is not just elections, but the setting in
place of institutions and the respect for the separation of
powers established by the Haitian Constitution, which in the
case of elections makes the [CEP] responsible to write the
electoral law, apply it, and be the judge of last resort."
His words were echoed the following day by Prime Minister
Jacques Edouard Alexis who said that "the U.S. Congress is not
a Haitian state institution." Alexis also scolded certain
Haitian politicians who, "when the people decide not to turn to
them anymore, go looking for the support of foreigners so that
can speak badly about the country and help them to continue
The message was articulated even more clearly in a Jul. 7
demonstration called by the Coordinating Initiative of Popular
Organizations (KIOP), in which about 2000 people marched by the
U.S., Canadian, and French Embassies, and ended up at the OAS
"We are speaking directly to the international community," said
one KIOP speaker, "because 90% of them, in particular the U.S.,
is responsible for the state of the country today. Because
instead of fostering unity in smaller countries, they always
create division. Instead of looking for ways to help create
better conditions for the people, they create more poverty. For
example, they send a Haitian CIA agent [FRAPH leader Toto
Constant] to be a political leader to create trouble in the
country and to counteract all those people who want to work to
improve the country."
Ominously, the "international community" shows signs of
increasing their meddling, by discussing Haiti's elections in
the U.N. Security Council, the planet's highest executive body.
The body has no right -- in fact it is explicitly forbidden by
the U.N. Charter - to intrude into a nation's internal affairs.
Nonetheless, in a Jul. 10 statement the SC "expressed concern
with the violence during the electoral period and reports of
irregularities in electoral procedures and changes occurring
in" the CEP.
In another Jul. 10 statement, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
said he wanted "to urge Haitian leaders to heed the wishes of
the people of Haiti, who have repeatedly expressed their
desire for a return to constitutionality."
Ironically, the forces hindering the "return to
constitutionality" are the "opposition" and the "international
community," sanctioned by Annan himself.
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