Haiti: violence, abstention mar election

Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) suspended voting for senators on April 19 in the Central Plateau department after violence disrupted the process there in at least three cities. A candidate and his supporters occupied a polling place in Lascahobas, in the Central Plateau near the Dominican border. Armed men in five vehicles disrupted voting at two polling place in downtown Mirebalais, and an election worker received a bullet wound early in the day. Local electoral authorities suspended voting in Saut d’eau after people threw rocks at a voting center and charged into others.

Senator Edmonde Supplice Beauzile, who took refuge in Mirebalais’ Mirage hotel with the candidate of her Fusion Center party, charged that there was a plot by President René Préval’s LESPWA (“Hope”) party and the Haitian Citizens Union for Democracy, Development and Education (UCADDE) to prevent the likely victory of the Fusion candidate. The UCADDE’s Willot Joseph was reportedly carrying a Galil assault rifle and threatening to kill Beauzile if he saw her.

Voting continued in the rest of the country; 12 of the 30 seats in the national Senate were up for renewal. “The people have voted,” CEP president Frantz-Gérard S. Verret said at the end of the day, “but not massively.” “[W]e’ve done our duty,” he added. “We’ve carried out good elections.” There were no official figures on turnout nationwide, but observers said it was very low. The CEP had rejected the candidates of Lavalas Family (FL) party of former president Jean-Bertand Aristide (1991-1996 and 2001-2004), who refused to file paperwork from his exile in South Africa, and the party called for a boycott of the election. Verret complimented FL members for their “citizen-like behavior” and said they had not been blamed for any of the violence. (AlterPresse April 19; Radio Kiskeya, April 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 19

See our last post on Haiti.