By TRENTON DANIEL AND JACQUELINE CHARLES
SANTO DOMINGO — Members of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission met in the neighboring Dominican Republic Tuesday as Haitian officials and the international community searched for a way to break an impasse over the country’s flawed presidential election.
It was the third straight day of calm in Port-au-Prince ; A marked contrast to last week when backers of popular singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly and anti-government demonstrators paralyzed the capital with barricades and fires to protest preliminary election results that showed Martelly had been edged out of a runoff by Jude Célestin, Haitian President René Préval’s protegé.
Martelly proposed his own solution Tuesday: Form a new elections council and hold a new election in January in which all 17 candidates could participate. The candidate getting the most votes in that election should win the presidency, he said.
“It’s only like that that I can believe things can recover, that I can have confidence with the retabulation, that the country can reclaim confidence in the electoral process,” Martelly said.
Préval, meanwhile, called on the Organization of American States to provide technical experts to help with both the legal challenges to the vote and a review of the tally sheets. The United States and others hope that will lead to a vote recount.
At this point candidates have until Wednesday to file appeals with the electoral council, and the final results, which could lead to a runoff, are scheduled to be released Dec. 20.
Martelly, according to preliminary election results, finished fewer than 7,000 votes behind second-place finisher Célestin in the Nov. 28 presidential election. Former first lady and academic Mirlande Manigat finished first.
The election crisis comes one month before the one-year anniversary of the devastating quake that hit Haiti and in the midst of a cholera epidemic.
“We are all dedicated to the recovery. This important work rises above the politic of the day,” said Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, co-chair of the reconstruction commission along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Most of the meeting focused on the slow pace of the recovery from the earthquake, which left 300,000 dead — by Haitian government estimates — and more than 1 million living in tents and under tarps.
A dozen Haitian commission members signed a letter that aired their frustrations with the recovery process. “The Haitian members don’t even know the names of the firms that are working for the [commission] and what they are doing,” said Suze Filippine, who represents Préval on the commission. “We are just figure heads to rubber stamp decisions when they are taken by the commission.”
The group’s volley came after former Jamaica Prime Minister P.J. Patterson lobbed a criticism of his own. “This thing requires a level of urgency. The people of Haiti can’t wait indefinitely to see something meaningful and tangible in respect to the removal of the rubble . . . people should not be able to live in that situation nearly one year after the earthquake.”
Clinton acknowledged the concerns saying that it’s important for the people of Haiti to see “tangible progress” and reconstruction as a reality not a dream. He said the commission had already approved $2.6 billion in projects to help 1 million Haitians, and had hoped to approve another $500 million by Tuesday evening.
The concept is flawed from its first moment.
The concept involves counting existing votes.
There is no way in which anyone can guarantee that these are the votes that voters put into the ballot boxes.
As attorneys and judges would say….”There is no chain of evidence” that traces items from the beginning to the end. There could have been an interference at any point along the route. Their security, since the election, has been questionable with unidentified people walking in and out of the Tabulation Center without showing any ID to the security people.
The three candidates, supposedly with the most votes…Martelly, Celestin and Manigat were not the top in the unbiased polls before the election. Celestin and Manigat got single digit numbers, while Martelly was around 15%.
The top of the polls found Ceant and Baker.
To press on with the present situation will provide a disaster.