On November 28, Haiti held first round legislative and presidential elections, a previous article explaining that democracy was off the ballot.
The entire process was rigged, 15 parties excluded, including by far the most popular, Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas. Under the most dire conditions, it was a cruel joke, not even equivalent to what Edward Herman called "demonstration elections" in his 1980 book by that title, sham ones assuring installation of US-friendly candidates, elections in name only.
On November 28, it was worse, so bad, in fact, that world headlines explained it. For example, New York Times writers Damien Cave and Randol Archibold headlined, "Haitian Candidates Call to Void Election," saying:
"Two-thirds of Haiti's presidential candidates said Sunday's election was so tainted by fraud that it should be invalidated, but late in the evening, national election officials ordered the vote to stand, saying that problems at most polling sites had been minor."
They lied. Washington orchestrated the entire process to assure its choices take over, its usual imperial heavy-handedness, this time including ballot box stuffing and other irregularities. Nonetheless, initial results will be known on December 5, officially announced on December 20.
"At an afternoon news conference here, 12 of the 18 candidates still in the race had called on the election council to void the results because of 'massive fraud,' which they described as an effort by (Preval's) Unity Party....to stuff ballot boxes and turn away voters who opposed Mr. Preval's chosen candidate, Jude Celestin. The candidates, in an unusual display of unity....urged their partisans to peacefully take to the streets, and many did."
Haiti's US Embassy spokesman said only that it was monitoring the situation. Organization of American States (OAS) observers cancelled a news conference, saying it was gathering information for "our assessment of polling day activities." A UN statement expressed "deep concerns over the numerous incidents that marred the election." Neither Preval or a spokesperson said anything as expected.
On November 30, Al Jazeera said:
"The joint observer mission from the Organization of American States/Caribbean Community said that although there had been widespread problems, including acts of violence and intimidation and poor organization blocking many people from voting, this was not enough to doom the polls."
The mission's head, Colin Granderson, said:
"The mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as some were, necessarily invalidated the process."
Nicole Phillips, observer from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said at every polling station she visited there were flaws. "Streams of people, dozens and dozens of people were unable to vote because they couldn't find their name on an electoral list."
In Acul du Nord and Trou du Nord, two northern towns near Cap-Haitien, voting was cancelled after people fired gunshots in the air and trashed one voting station. A Port-au-Prince one was also ransacked.
Financial Times writer Benedict Mander headlined, "Haiti poll denounced as 'massive fraud,' " saying:
"Allegations of 'massive fraud' (challenged) the legitimacy of a government that will have to rebuild a country decimated by an earthquake in January," and is now dealing with a cholera epidemic ravaging the country.
"We denounce a massive fraud that is occurring across the country....We demand the cancellation pure and simple of the elections." They also accused Preval of conspiring to "perpetuate his power and keep the people hostage to continue their misery."
A crowd awaiting them burst into Haiti's national anthem when they arrived and chanted "Arrest Preval!"
A later Reuters report said two more presidential candidates joined the others, leaving Preval's choice, Jude Celestin, "virtually alone among the contenders in upholding the legitimacy of the polls."
According to Markus Shultze-Kraft of Britain's Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex:
The electoral farce "is a big, potentially explosive dilemma. Haiti's government and its international friends needed the elections to choose a legitimate post-quake government to lead the reconstruction." That was impossible, of course, with Fanmi Lavalas and other parties banned.
Besides a sham process most Haitians boycotted, polling stations opened late. Voter names were missing on electoral rolls, and angry accusations cited ballot box stuffing. According to Alex Main, an unofficial observer from the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR):
"Things are incredibly tense. We visited one voting center in Carrefour where a group of PREVAL/INITE thugs got in and demolished everything and beat people up. Everyone was pretty upset. Mostly there's a lot of frustration. People can't find their names on the lists. They go expecting to be able to vote and they can't."
Main said the problem was widespread, not limited to a few isolated cases. Official observers were from the OAS, Caribbean Community, the association of francophone states, and the EU, not there to assure a free, fair and open process or serve Haitian voters' interests, their final statements to be taken with great caution.
That's now confirmed, according to a November 30 Al Jazeera report saying:
"The joint observer mission from the Organization of American States/Caribbean Community said that although there had been widespread problems, including acts of violence and intimidation and poor organisation blocking many people from voting, this was not enough to doom the polls."
The mission's Colin Granderson said:
"The joint mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as some were, necessarily invalidated the process."
Main, however, added that it's:
"clear that the sentiment here is that the international community should have done something to provide for people's basic needs" post-quake as well as dealing with raging cholera before holding elections. Having them under appalling conditions adds to their illegitimacy.
On November 29, a CEPR press release headlined, "International Community Should Reject Haiti's 'Sham' Elections," its Co-Director, Mark Weisbrot, saying:
"From the banning of the country's most popular party from the ballot to election day irregularities including numerous reports of ballot stuffing and the disenfranchisement of numerous eligible voters, these elections were an obvious farce from start to finish."
Short of international community condemnation and rejection, "Haiti (will) be left with a government (seen) as illegitimate."
Weisbrot recommended Preval's hand-picked Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) be replaced and that new elections be held. That prospect is exceedingly dim to say the least, leaving Haitians again stuck with imperial Washington calling the shots, having no concern whatever for democracy or their interests at a time millions have dire needs.
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