|Haiti Archives 1995-1996|
|06/06/95||THIS WEEK IN HAITI May 31 – June 6, 1995 Vol. 13, No. 10|
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* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
May 31 – June 6, 1995
CANDIDATES LINE UP FOR OCCUPATION ELECTIONS
Ironically, the upcoming elections in Haiti are not auguring the re-establishment of Haitian democracy and sovereignty, but rather their denial. Financed and monitored by non-Haitian institutions, the occupation elections are effectively controlled by the US government along with the so-called "international community."
This control was underscored anew this week when one UN official unilaterally announced that the elections might have to be postponed yet again. The ostensible reason? A California-based company might not have enough time to print the 10 million ballots for the vote. (The US government vetoed Haitian plans to have the ballots printed in Haiti). Anselme Remy, the head of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) which is supposed to be running the show, tried to put on a brave face in the embarrassing situation. "The electoral council is holding elections, not the United Nations," Remy claimed May 25.
However, the CEP's own declarations over past months belie Remy's assertions of independence. Most importantly, the CEP and the Haitian government have repeatedly asserted that elections would be impossible without the support of the "international community." Back in January, for instance, Remy was saying that the elections could not proceed until more funding was made available. But money has only trickled in, mostly from the United States which has committed to pick up most of the $13.5 million tab. This week Japan chipped in, granting $400,000 to the CEP bureaucrats to run around in plush jeeps with fancy communication equipment.
The electoral stage , however, would not be complete without the actors to dramatize the directors' farce. This week the CEP officially published a final list of "approved" candidates, which, in tune with the Aristide/Michel government's "reconciliation" policy, included Duvalierists and putschists. (Under Article 291 of Haiti's 1987 constitution, Duvalierists are barred from holding public office for ten years. Some putchists were disqualified from the June 25 elections on technicalities, but not Article 291.) Some 3,700 wanted to run for the 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and two-thirds of the 27 seats in the Senate, but only around 1,500 were reportedly accepted. The rest of the some 10,000 candidates are running for thousands of positions in 133 mayoral and 565 township councils.
The Lavalas Political Organization (OPL), supported by President Aristide, put up the largest number of candidates, followed by the National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD). Haiti's two social democratic parties, the National Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM) and the Haitian Progressive and Revolutionary Nationalist Party (PANPRA), occupied third and fourth place respectively for candidate entrants. The CEP also approved the candidates of pro-coup right-wing "micro-parties" such as the neo-Duvalierist Mobilization for National Development (MDN), led by Hubert de Ronceray; the Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP) led by former military-installed Haitian president Lesly Manigat, and the Haitian Christian Democratic Party (PDCH). Marc Bazin, the infamous "American candidate" in the Dec. 1990 presidential elections, pulled his party, the Movement for the Founding of Democracy in Haiti (MIDH), out of the elections. In total, 23 parties and political coalitions have ben approved to take part in the June 25 vote.
Despite the scramble of candidates to present themselves, the Aristide government and the CEP are running into severe problems. The pull of US/UN purse strings, USAID "civic education" campaigns, and the training and financing of many political parties by the United States already guarantee election skewing. Furthermore, reports of fraud and vote buying are increasing. Haitian police arrested one pro-putschist legislator this week, Benoit Laguerre, for allegedly possessing nearly 100 voter registration cards. The CEP also reported this week that 800,000 voter registration cards were stolen, a fact which must cast severe doubt on the competence of the electoral body. But CEP chief Remy tried to divert the blame. "There is a sector that doesn't want elections to take place," Remy said May 25. "The aim of the people who have (stolen) the cards is to prevent people who want to vote from voting." The CEP reportedly discovered the missing cards when it took an inventory of the 4.2 millon cards distributed to regional offices last month. Some 3.6 million of Haiti's seven million people are eligible to vote and the CEP claims — despite widespread skepticism — that more than three million voters have registered.
Meanwhile, opposition to the occupation elections continues to mount from Haiti's popular organizations. The National Popular Assembly (APN) held its third national congress May 25 – 28 in Port-au-Prince. "The APN declares that honest, democratic, and secure elections are not possible under the US military occupation," one of the Congress' final resolutions said. "The APN calls for disarmament, justice, and an end to the occupation before elections." The APN also asked the Haitian people to "boycott the bogus elections of June 25 and July 19 so as not to give the US, the subservient bourgeoisie, and petty bourgeois opportunists a pretext to continue the policies of reconciliation with the Macoutes and selling the country from underneath us."
(More on the APN's "Charlemagne Peralte Congress" next week.)
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