Haiti: Flawed election in the making

Dec 30, 2009

Haiti: Flawed election in the making

December 28, 2009– The Canada Haiti Action Network expresses its grave concern at the November 26 decision by Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (Conseil électoral provisoire–CEP) to exclude the Fanmi Lavalas party from planned elections to take place on February 28, 2010. On that date, Haiti will hold elections for 98 of 99 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and ten seats of its 30-seat Senate.

According to varying news reports, some twelve other political parties that had registered to participate in the election were ruled ineligible.

Thousands of Haitians staged a protest in the capital city, Port au Prince, on December 16 against the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas. Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the party’s executive council told the Reuters news network, “There will be no election in February, there will be a selection. What the authorities are planning is really a big farce.”

More protests are promised by popular organizations, including the newly formed Assembly of Organizations for Change (Rassemblement des Organisations pour un Changement).

In justifying its decision, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) claimed that a registration mandate sent by Fanmi Lavalas leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, living in exile in South Africa, is not authentic. In fact, the party presented an original mandate authenticated by a Haitian notary that complies with Haitian law. Aristide sent a fax of the mandate directly to the CEP and confirmed its authenticity in a rare and lengthy interview on Port au Prince’s Radio Solidarité.

One party approved by the CEP is the Front for National Reconstruction of the notorious paramilitary Guy Philippe. He stands indicted by a U.S. court in 2005 on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

This is the second time this year that the CEP has barred Fanmi Lavalas from an election. The first banning occurred in the election to eleven of the thirty seats in Haiti’s Senate that was held in two rounds in April and June of 2009. Following a call by Lavalas for a boycott of that election, voter turnout was less than ten percent, perhaps as little as two or three percent. Despite the low turnout, the ‘elected’ senators, mostly from President Réné Préval’s electoral machine, L’Espwa, took office.

Fanmi Lavalas is by far the largest and most representative political party in Haiti. It was founded in 1997 and won an overwhelming victory in the presidential and legislative election of 2000. The party is “still considered the most popular political force in [Haiti]” (Reuters, ‘Aristide party barred from Haiti’s February ballot’, Nov. 25th, 2009).

A hastily-called Haitian election that excludes Fanmi Lavalas will resemble the “elections” recently held in Honduras and Afghanistan that, in reality, legitimized illegal seizures of power.

An exclusion election will perpetuate the illegal and unconstitutional seizure of power in Haiti dating from February, 2004. At that time, President Aristide, the national government he led, and other elected institutions were overthrown in a paramilitary coup, backed by the armed forces of the United States, Canada and France. U.S. Marines forcibly removed President Aristide from the country. The reason for the overthrow was that Lavalas’ policies of social justice threatened the narrow economic interests of Haiti’s venal elite and their foreign backers. Haiti remains occupied by a 10,000-member United Nations police and military force, known by its acronym MINUSTAH.

The CEP has limited constitutional authority. It is a provisional body, hand picked by Haiti’s President, René Préval, whereas the country’s Constitution, adopted in 1987, requires a permanent body. The Constitution specifies an electoral council of nine members, three selected by each of the national Legislature, Senate, and Supreme Court from among nominees put forward by departmental popular assemblies (Haiti currently consists of ten geopolitical departments).

MINUSTAH approved of the “election” of April/June 2009, as did the United States, Canada and France. The big three countries provided $12 million to organize it. Some $15 million is earmarked for the hastily-called 2010 election. The United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in Haiti, Michel Forst, declared on November 30 that he was convinced the CEP had “good reasons” for its recent exclusion decisions.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive told a December 18 interview, “The CEP explained their reasons, and I believe the ones they gave are pretty good ones, legal ones, that are coherent with the law and their mission.”

The signatories of this statement urge readers to carry out the following acts of solidarity in support of the people of Haiti:

  1. Call, write and/or email your respective governments, foreign affairs departments and MINUSTAH and demand that they not endorse an undemocratic electoral process in Haiti. Demand that the banning of Fanmi Lavalas from forthcoming elections be lifted and that Haiti hold free and fair elections. (See the attached list, for Canadian readers).
  2. Demand that the Haitian government facilitate the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his native land when he so chooses, including assuring his personal security.
  3. Demand that the foreign aid promised to Haiti to rebuild its economy and social infrastructure be made immediately available. Less than five per cent of the $760 million promised by an April, 2009 UN-hosted international conference has been delivered. Substantially greater sums must be provided in recognition of the destructive and illegal coup d’etat of 2004.

For more background on the announced February, 2010 election:


For more background on Haiti, view the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network:

http://canadahaitiaction.ca/ or phone Haiti Solidarity BC (Vancouver) at 778 858 5179 or Toronto Haiti Action Network at 416 731 2325.

In Canada, please send messages of concern to the following:


Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Phone: 613-946-8682

Email: pm@pm.gc.ca


Office of the Prime Minister

80 Wellington Street

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

Lawrence Cannon

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Tel: (613) 992-5516

Fax: (613) 992-6802

Email: Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca


House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Peter Kent

Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Tel: (613) 992-0253

Fax: (613) 992-0887

Email: kentp@parl.gc.ca


House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Bev Oda

Minister of International Cooperation

Tel: (613) 992-2792

Fax: (613) 992-2794

Email: Oda.B@parl.gc.ca


House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
Mrs. Marie Nathalie Menos-Gissel, Minister-Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires
130 Rue Albert, No. 1409
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5G4 Canada

Phone: (613) 238 1628

Fax: 613 238 2986

Email: bohio@sympatico.ca


Bob Rae

Tel: (613) 992-5234

Fax: (613) 996-9607

Email: raeb@parl.gc.ca

Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic


House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

Francine Lalonde

Bloc Quebecois Foreign Affairs Critic

Tel: (613) 995-6327

Fax: (613) 995-5173

Email: lalonf@parl.gc.ca


Bureau 211,

Édifice de la Justice

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

Paul Dewar

NDP Foreign Affairs Critic

Tel: (613) 946-8682

Email: dewarp@parl.gc.ca


House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

In Haiti, contact:

11, Impasse Théodule Bourdon
Port-au-Prince, Haïti
Téléphones Portable: 011 5093 478 6299 / 011 5093 702 6522
Bureau: 011 5092 244 2050

ext. 6099, 6555, 6035, 3347
Email: press@minustah.org