Haiti: Protests demand Preval resign

Protest in support of ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on March 22 in Port au Prince. Aristide’s Lavalas party, Haiti’s most popular, was barred from taking part in elections. Photo: coat.ncf.ca

The president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on May 24 that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on November 28, the constitutionally prescribed date.

“The CEP is up to the task of organising general elections in the country”, said Gaillot Dorsinvil, who is also the handicapped sector’s representative on the nine-member council, handpicked by President Rene Preval.

But tens of thousands of Haitians don’t agree and have been demonstrating in the streets in recent weeks to demand a new CEP — and Preval’s resignation.

Evans Paul, a leader of the Convention for Democratic Unity (KID) party and the political platform Alternative, said: “Nobody has confidence in Preval or his CEP to organise credible elections.”

Both KID and Alternative, along with other right-wing politicians and parties that supported the 2004 coup against elected-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, have joined in an unlikely alliance with popular organisations aligned with Aristide’s party, the Lavalas Family.

The alliance, called Heads Together of Popular Organizations (TKOP), has held three massive demonstrations of many thousands in the capital Port-au-Prince on May 10, May 17, and May 25.

The protests called for Preval’s resignation, Aristide’s return from exile in South Africa and the repeal of the “state of emergency” law that puts a foreign-dominated council in charge of Haiti’s post-earthquake reconstruction, among other demands.

Nobody is more distrustful of Preval’s electoral supervision than Lavalas militants, whose party, Haiti’s largest, was barred in November from taking part in parliamentary elections originally scheduled for February.

Fourteen other parties were also disqualified. The election was cancelled after the January 12 earthquake.

A previous Preval-appointed CEP, containing five members of the current one, also disqualified the Lavalas Family party from parliamentary elections held in April and June 2009. Those elections were massively boycotted, with less than 5% of voters turning out.

On May 25, thousands of demonstrators converged on the crumbled National Palace for the third time in two weeks. Lavalas marchers were joined by “reformed” coup supporters and traditional political parties.

The demonstration was spirited but peaceful. Barricades to prevent marchers from demonstrating in front of the palace were swept away by the crowd, which filled the broad street between the palace fence and the earthquake victims’ tents on Toussaint L’Ouverture Place.


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