Haiti faces overhaul of election system-Added COMMENTARY By Haitian-Truth

Popular singer Michel Martelly and former first lady Mirlande Manigat, who will face off in Haiti’s presidential runoff, have called for changes in the fraud-plagued elections system.



PORT-AU-PRINCE — With official word that a popular singer and long-time opposition leader will face off in next month’s presidential runoff, the attention turned Thursday to a major overhaul of Haiti’s fraud-ridden election system.

Elections officials announced early Thursday that Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, 49, and former first lady Mirlande Manigat, 70, will head into a March 20 runoff. Martelly was chosen over government-backed candidate Jude Célestin, who was in second place after preliminary results.

The country remained relatively calm, but the news was met with mixed reaction. Critics accused the international community of using its “tremendous power and influence” to determine the outcome of the flawed vote, as Martelly and Manigat supporters celebrated.

Martelly held a news conference to promote his vision of a “new Haiti,” and Manigat hosted a meeting of supporters.

Célestin, who rebuffed pressure by his political coalition to withdraw from the race amid international pressure, did not comment on the election results.

“The Haitian people expressed that they want Michel Martelly,” said Martelly, defending criticism that the United States and others helped secure his spot in the runoff. “The victory today, it was not a gift. . . . I don’t think [the international community] has decided the political fate of Haiti. I think that the support they have brought matches the Haitian people’s will toward change. The people voted Manigat, Martelly.”

In all, elections officials deliberated 108 disputed results, including 105 for legislative races, also marred by fraud. As a result, some questioned whether Thursday’s announcement will resolve the country’s political crisis.

“It is not clear that a second round will bring stability to Haiti, let alone legitimacy to the new president,” said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia who has closely followed the crisis.

“The controversial first round as well as the patterns of foreign interference have left many sectors disenchanted with the process,” he said. “In addition, whoever is elected will have to deal with an unruly parliament and prime minister. So this is a first and small step toward the creation of a new government, but it may well be a detour to a new crisis.”

To avoid a repeat of the problems from the November vote, Martelly and Manigat have called for changes of the members of the elections council or improvements in the elections system. They say election workers need better training, the voters list must be cleaned up and access must be provided to party monitors on Election Day.

For months, Haiti has been clouded by political uncertainty, diplomatic wrangling and pressure by the international community, including the United States.

Last month, the top U.S. diplomat to the United Nations warned a quake-battered Haiti that it could lose valuable international aid if it failed to accept the recommendations of a controversial Organization of American States report.

An OAS team was assembled to review vote tallies and make recommendations after allegations of massive fraud in the November election.

The OAS report suggested the elections could be salvaged with an improved second round, and recommended that Martely replace Célestin in the runoff.

The suggestion was made after the OAS team reviewed 919 of 11,000 tally sheets and recommended that 234 tally sheets be excluded because they were irregular or fraudulent. That put a three-tenths of a percentage point, or 3,225-vote, difference between Martelly and Célestin.

Préval and Célestin, 48, disputed the report and questioned its methodology.

Préval had promised when he was elected in 2006 to leave his post Monday, the day a new president should have taken office. But last year, the Senate agreed to extend his term until May 14.

On Thursday, there was rampant speculation about whether Préval would keep his word. Some Haitians are planning protests Monday calling for his departure.

The international community has said that it would like Préval to remain in office until his successor is elected.

But U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who is among those who called for a revote, blasted the handling of the November vote.

“It appears that the international community — led by the United States, Canada, and France — has used its tremendous power and influence to determine the outcome of the first round of the elections and the candidates for the runoff,” Waters said. “Once again, the people of Haiti have been denied the opportunity to express their will through free, fair, credible, and transparent elections.”

Shortly after the results were announced, foreign diplomats issued statements calling for continued calm, and lauding Haitian elections officials.

“It’s a good day in Haiti today again,” U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten said during a visit to Washington. “We are pleased to note that [elections officials] seem to have been very diligent in following the OAS verification mission’s report’s recommendations. And we salute their work in this regard.”

The spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he encouraged “all actors to take advantage of this opportunity to move forward with the electoral process.”

Thursday morning, adults walked to work, uniform children to school and businesses reopened. In December, after elections officials announced the preliminary results, Martelly supporters took to the streets, screaming that their vote had been stolen. They shut down the capital and two major cities with three days of violent protests.

Now, some fear the same could happen by supporters of Préval and Célestin because they view the selection of Martelly and Manigat as a “rupture” with the last 20 years of the leftist politics that brought Préval and his one-time mentor, former President Jean Bertrand-Aristide, to power.

The country also is wrestling with last month’s surprise return of former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and the possible return of Aristide, who is in exile in South Africa.



Unfortunately The Group of 12 were as quiet as mice about the flawed electoral process that effectively stole the election from Cean/Baker and gave it to Martelly/Manigat.  Perhaps, as they say, they were waiting for the appropriate moment….but they really waited too long.

No one, outside of Haiti, really knows exactly how bad the electoral process was and will never know if Haitians remain silent.

The international community has interfered, from day one.

The Americans had an opportunity to insist on a NEW CEP but chose to take the Preval Controlled CEP’s word as guarantee of a fair vote. Now The Americans realize what horses asses they were, but must now swallow the failed vote, or admit error. Instead of admitting the truth, they now support Martelly/Manigat instead of Ceant/Baker…the pair they know were actual leaders in the vote and in popularity.

There is an old saying…”The Lord helps them who help themselves…” and the Group of 12 was defeated by their silence.

The election – if held – will mark a sad day for Haiti, another in a long line of sad days.


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