Haiti election commission under scrutiny for ties to President René Préval
Haiti holds its first presidential debate Saturday, even as President René Préval's ties to the election commission has observers asking whether the CEP rejected candidates based on politics.
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The CEP’s decision to again exclude Fanmi Lavalas defied a recommendation from the US Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations. A June report titled “Haiti: No Leadership, No Elections,” urged “the international donor community to seek an agreement with the CEP and all political parties, including the factions of Famni Lavalas, to ensure that the parties meet the CEP’s legal requirements and are not excluded from the elections because of perceived technicalities.”Skip to next paragraph
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Fanmi Lavalas has been joined by Alternative, UCADD, Rasemble, and Liberation in calling for a boycott of the November election. The latter four parties and were permitted to present candidates but backed out amid growing uncertainty over the CEP’s ability to hold fair elections.
International community hopes for the best
“They are concerned that the electoral council is not independent and is being manipulated by the president and that the president is doing everything to make sure that his party wins the election and so on,” CARICOM Assistant Secretary General Colin Granderson told the Monitor from Port-au-Prince.
“We listen to what they say,” he says. “But when you ask for proof it’s very difficult for them to give you proof.”
The mission has operated in Haiti since August in response to a request by the Haitian government. “I can’t think of any recent election where an observation mission has been there for such a long time,” says Mr. Granderson.
He says the mission has already issued recommendations to the CEP, including to disclose its reasons for dismissing candidates. But overall the international community, which is providing most of the election’s $29 million price tag, appears reluctant to interfere with the election process and slow down what it perceives as Haiti’s urgent need for a new government.
“The international community wants to be able to recognize whatever government comes out of the process,” says Alex Dupuy, a professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and author of several books on Haitian politics.
“I doubt very much that they would be willing to call the whole thing into question when they were the ones pushing for elections to start with," he says. “The international community will allow the process to go forward and hope that it will be as fair as it can possibly be under the conditions.”