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5989: Haiti's Elections and the Truth Behind the Negotiation Process (fwd)
Reprints are encouraged.
HAITI'S ELECTIONS AND THE TRUTH BEHIND THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS
Why Haiti must go forward with its elections this Sunday despite the
opposition's Option Zero strategy
This Sunday, November 26th, Haiti must go forward with its elections for
president and nine senatorial seats. The alternative is deceivingly logical:
delay elections, re-do the provisional electoral council (CEP), resolve the
contestations of the May 21st elections first. Give the opposition a level
playing field in which to participate, then we will recognize your elections.
Sounds great. But the false assumption underlying this scenario is that the
opposition really wants to participate in elections that they are certain to
lose. Difficult premise to accept when everything points to the fact that
Their so-called option zero strategy is no secret. Over and over on radio
and television their spokesmen said that President Préval was incapable of
organizing elections. That he, along with his "de facto" government must
resign, that the results of the May 21st elections must be cancelled in toto
and that an interim commission must assume control of the government to
prepare new general elections.
After months of this public posture, option zero became the opposition's
starting point for the OAS negotiations begun last September. In their first
meeting with Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi they made it clear
that any so-called accord would not come easy. Before even agreeing to a
dialogue on the issues, they questioned the process. Who are you? they asked
Ambassador Einaudi. What is your authority to conduct these talks? What
assurances do we have that anything agreed to will be binding?
After questioning the process, they presented a list of pre-conditions to any
participation in that process. The list was submitted to Ambassador Einaudi
on September 24th and immediately released to the press. Among other things,
the opposition asked for the complete suspension of all activities by
parliament and by all officials elected May 21st. With no timetable set for
the completion of a dialogue, they demanded an indefinite suspension of the
electoral process. President Préval's video recorded message welcoming
Einaudi's arrival and the start of the negotiations was not sufficient sign
of his good will. They wanted more. And even insisted that the President
set aside the affairs of state to sit along side the party leaders throughout
the process, rather than send a representative, even when that representative
was the Prime Minister.
On its side Fanmi Lavalas set no preconditions to negotiations. September
25th, 6:00 pm, Fanmi Lavalas sent its delegation (headed by Senator Yvon
Neptune) to the Hotel Montana, as requested by Ambassador Einaudi, for the
first face to face meeting with representatives of the opposition. But by
the time they arrived at the hotel, the opposition had left, categorically
refusing to meet.
The next day, September 26th a second meeting was scheduled for 6:00 pm. But
at 4:30 pm OAS Haiti Representative Denneth Modest called Senator Neptune and
canceled that meeting also.
By Wednesday, September 27th, the opposition's position was hardening both
privately and in the press. They insisted on a written response to their
preconditions. They accused Ambassador Einaudi of siding with President
Aristide and backtracking on commitments made by the international community
to cancel in toto the results of the May 21st elections. They even
criticized President Préval for placing the Haitian Constitution as the outer
limits to any accord.
The game plan was clear: avoid a face to face meeting the entire week until
Ambassador Einaudi's scheduled departure from Haiti on Friday, September
29th. So far it was working.
The next day, Thursday September 28th, Ambassador Einaudi presented the
opposition with a proposal from Fanmi Lavalas that all presidential
candidates recommend the names of new members to the CEP who in turn can sit
and negotiate the outstanding issues - including the contested senate seats.
The opposition rejected the proposal outright and declared that the talks
were off. A small faction, looking to avoid being blamed for leaving the
table first, promised to meet further to consider the CEP issue proposed by
Fanmi Lavalas. That meeting never happened. When the international
community was presented with the proposal, they insisted on the participation
of the opposition to any accord that they would be asked to sanction.
Friday, September 29th, Ambassador Einaudi left Haiti. Without an accord,
without so much as a face to face meeting between the parties.
Two weeks later, Friday October 13th, Ambassador Einaudi returned to Haiti.
Fanmi Lavalas proposed a 4 point agenda to the dialogue: (1) new nominations
to the CEP; (2) the issue of the contested senate seats; (3) security; and
(4) participation of the international community in the elections.
The next day Ambassador Einaudi proposed a meeting among all parties.
President Aristide confirmed by letter dated October 16th the composition of
Fanmi Lavalas' delegation. Tuesday, October 17th the two delegations met.
According to Ambassador Einaudi's report to the OAS, the meeting was
fruitful, and elements of an accord on certain points began to emerge.
October 19th, Ambassador Einaudi presented Fanmi Lavalas and representatives
of the opposition with his proposed agenda of items. Both sides were asked
to comment on the paper. Fanmi Lavalas agreed in large part with the 5 main
(1) collaboration in creating secure conditions for the elections;
(2) the establishment of a commission to resolve the issue of the contested
(3) conditions for elections to ensure a transition of executive power by the
constitutionally mandated date of February 7th;
(4) reforming the CEP; and
(5) measures to reinforce democratic institutions.
At the second face to face meeting that same day among the parties, the
opposition refused to consider the comments made by Fanmi Lavalas. Instead,
they further hardened their position. They insisted on 8 of the 9 seats on
the CEP and asked that a certain number of officials elected to the
territorial collectives be replaced with their partisans. It was clear to
everyone at this meeting that the opposition was looking for a way out of the
Ambassador Einaudi left Haiti the next day with no accord.
Option zero was playing out according to plan. With no accord and hopefully
no election, President Preval's term would expire on February 7th with no
president-elect in sight.
Haiti must proceed with its democratic elections this Sunday. Aristide will
not win because the opposition is boycotting the elections -- as the U.S.
press would like us to believe. The truth is that the opposition is
boycotting the elections because they can't possibly win in a democratic
election. This is why, despite all efforts on the part of the OAS and Fanmi
Lavalas, the opposition has remained with their strategy of discrediting the
electoral process at any cost.
The Haitian people want to give former-President Aristide a chance to advance
their country and their lot, by serving as president again. After all,
Aristide only got to serve a total of 22 months out of a 60-month term inside
of Haiti because of the coup d'etat.
Eerily, this point in time is reminiscent of the coup d'etat period, where
those resisting democratic transition would stop at nothing to block
Aristide's return to Haiti. Today, it is to block his return to the
presidency. Sadly, today we have seen senseless violence, which has taken the
life of at least one child. The violence is meant to thwart the elections.
But as a democracy, Haiti must continue with its constitutionally mandated
electoral process and install its next democratically elected president on
February 7, 2001. - ### -
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