Haiti: Lavalas barred from senate race

Hundreds of supporters of Haiti’s Lavalas Family (FL) party demonstrated in Port-au-Prince on Feb. 7 to protest the decision of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to reject all 16 candidates from two different slates that the party’s rival factions had tried to run in a partial senatorial election slated for April 19. The CEP rejected a total of 40 of the 105 candidates who had filed to run for the 12 Senate seats at stake. Another candidate barred from the race was former military officer Guy Philippe, who led a 2004 insurgency against the FL’s founder, former president Jean Bertrand Aristide; Philippe is suspected of narco trafficking. (AlterPresse, Feb. 8)

The Haitian Constitution provides for one third of Haiti’s 30-member Senate to be renewed every two years. The April 19 election will also elect replacements for Senator Noël Emmanuel Limage (Artibonite/Nord department), who died in office, and Rudolph Henry Boulos (Nord-Est), who was removed because of his dual nationality. The CEP gave no detailed explanation of its decision, made public the night of Feb. 5-6. CEP Frantz Gerard Verret told a radio program that the conflict in the FL had no bearing on the exclusion of the FL candidates; the reason was simply that they hadn’t met the requirements under electoral law, he said. Currently there are two FL senators: Rudy Heriveaux (Ouest department) and Yvon Buissereth (Sud department). (AlterPresse, Feb. 6; Agence Haitienne de Presse, Feb. 6) (It is unclear how the FL selects its candidates; there were also disputes about the FL candidates in the 2006 legislative elections.)

On Feb. 6 the US embassy issued a communique expressing concern over a decision “that bars all the candidates of a political party from participating in the next electoral contests.” Elections “based on exclusion…will inevitably put their credibility in question,” the embassy said. Canada also deplored the CEP’s decision on the FL candidates. (Radio Kiskeya, Haiti, Feb. 6)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8

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