BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haitian President René Préval said Wednesday that suggestions by a ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he negotiate with the international community to revamp Haiti’s nine-member elections council are “unacceptable.”
Préval’s terse retort was his first public comments in response to Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar’s call last month for U.S. State Deparment officials in Haiti to strongly encourage Préval to restructure Haiti’s beleaguered Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) “in consultation with international partners.”
Lugar’s report said restructuring the body and ensuring the participation of the opposition parties, including factions of ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas, were key to the elections’ credibility. Fanmi Lavalas was blocked from participating in 2009 legislative contests because of questions over the legitimacy of documents and rival candidate lists.
“I am not doing the CEP with international partners. I work with and respect the national partners,” Préval said.
Préval’s comments came during a news conference on the grounds of the crumbled presidential palace. He said any discussions about revamping the CEP — as several in the international community have demanded — are closed, and what is important is that Haitians get a chance to vote.
“It is vital for me when I leave, there is an elected president, elected parliament,” he said, later adding that he plans to invite technical experts and international observers to assist in the Nov. 28 elections.
In recent days, the president issued three separate elections decrees. Two of them mandated Nov. 28 as the day for presidential and legislative elections. The third empowered the CEP to carry out the presidential elections.
During the discussion, Préval stuck to the facts, providing journalists with copies of letters sent with the recommendations of various Haitian institutions to him after he requested nominees for the council.
The letters and suggestions of CEP members, he said, were proof that he did not “handpick” members of the CEP, as critics have accused.
Préval did not address another U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report that criticizes Haiti’s earthquake recovery. He said he would discuss that report, by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., at a news conference on reconstruction next week.
Meanwhile, as some opposition leaders continue to threaten to boycott elections, Préval said that the day before Haiti was hit by a catastrophic earthquake, 52 political parties had registered 95 candidates for 12 senate seats.
People should remember the cruel, barbarous move by Preval, even before the dust of the crushed buildings settled.
He had his police pass a rumor to the effect that a tsunami was going to sweep the downtown area of Port-au-Prince…”The plains were already flooded…!!” This created a panic – described in this article – which saw countless panic-stricken people flee the area…heading up into the hills above Port-au-Prince. They deserted everything, including injured relatives….men, women and small injured children…..
Preval wanted an excuse to free his gang leaders from the National Penitentiary.
On earlier occasions…Preval had freed murderers, kidnapers, rapists, torturers, drug smugglers…loyal to him…on the basis of humanitarian grounds. Some were so vicious that Preval could not follow this course of action…..and he needed these criminal to control slums in preparation for the November elections.
And so, the cynic Preval, grabbing the opportunity, started a rumor that would see numbers of his people die….but would allow the escape of his gang-leaders.
They are no controlling the various slums and tent cities…and stand ready to initiate conditions that will allow Preval the opportunity to declare elections impossible….because of poor security and violence.