Haiti: charge manipulation in 2010 elections

On Nov. 25, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced that it was rejecting the applications of 16 of the 69 parties that submitted candidates for legislative elections scheduled to be held on Feb. 28. The largest of the rejected parties is the Lavalas Family (FL) of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996 and 2001-2004); among the others were the Lespwa (“Hope”) coalition, until now the party of current president René Préval; Working Together to Build Haiti (KONBA); the Union party; and the Solidarity Effort for the Construction of the People’s Camp (ESCAMP), formerly part of Lespwa. Voters are to elect 98 of the 99 members of the Chamber of Deputies and 10 of the country’s 30 senators.

Critics charged that President Préval was manipulating the elections to favor the Unity party, a new coalition with which he is replacing Lespwa, part of a process in which a number of parties and coalitions are regrouping. The Union party said it had been rejected after its coordinator, Chavannes Jeune, turned down an invitation from Préval to join Unity. CEP president Gaillot Dorsainvil insisted on Nov. 26 that the council had acted independently to exclude parties that hadn’t complied with the law.

Several of these groups are split by internal conflicts, as had been the case with the FL when the CEP wouldn’t include it in the April 19 Senate elections earlier this year—the party had originally presented two different lists of candidates, and Aristide, the head of the party, reportedly refused to sign necessary paperwork as a protest against his removal from office in 2004. But this time FL director Maryse Narcisse presented a unified list with an authorization signed by Aristide, who has been in exile in South Africa since 2004.

Aristide confirmed this in an interview on Nov. 25 with Radio Solidarité, saying that the CEP’s decisions “shouldn’t be dictated by the government.” The ex-president, who usually avoids interviews, announced that he didn’t want to remain the head of the FL and that after a party congress was held, he would devote himself to education. (AlterPresse, Nov. 24, Nov. 25; Haiti Press Network, Nov. 25; Reuters, Nov. 25; Radio Métropole, Nov. 27)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 29

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