Haiti: electoral dispute continues; Swiss to return “Baby Doc” assets

On Feb. 13 Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) granted a three-day extension for candidates to appeal its decision to bar them from running in an April 19 election for 12 of the 30 seats in the Senate. The 40 excluded candidates, including all 16 candidates on two rival slates from the Lavalas Family (FL) party, have until Feb. 16 to file their appeals.

Despite an earlier denial from CEP president Frantz-Gerard Verret, on Feb. 9 the CEP acknowledged that the dispute in the party was the reason for the CEP’s exclusion of the FL candidates. The CEP is insisting on evidence that the list of FL candidates is authorized by former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has been living in South Africa since he was removed from office in February 2004. According to Radio Kiskeya in Port-au-Prince, Aristide is the party’s “permanent leader” (“leader inamovible”).

On Feb. 11 the CEP said Maryse Narcisse of the FL Executive Committee had turned in an authorization signed by Aristide on Apr. 24, 2004 (presumably giving powers to the Executive Committee). However, a group of FL members headed by former prime minister Yvon Neptune and former legislative deputy Yves Cristallin has challenged the document’s authenticity. (AlterPresse, Feb. 13; Agence Haitienne de Presse, Feb. 9, 11; Radio Kiskeya, Feb. 13

Swiss authorities announced on Feb. 12 that they will return assets of former “president for life” Jean-Claude Duvalier (“Baby Doc”) to Haiti for use in “social or humanitarian projects to benefit the Haitian population.” Duvalier’s funds in Swiss banks, which the Haitian government has sought since his overthrow in 1986, are worth about 7 million Swiss francs ($6 million); many believe he stole more than $100 million from Haiti while in office. The Duvalier family has 30 days to challenge the decision. (AFP, Feb. 12; AlterPresse, Feb. 12)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 15

See our last post on Haiti.