Why The CEP Banned Wyclef
Recent reports and statements about the elections have focused on one key issue that is likely to undermine the election: The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), appointed by President Rene Preval, has excluded 15 political parties then 15 candidates were rejected.
The U.S. and the international community have an obligation to condemn the CEP for excluding fifteen well-known political parties and some candidates without any logical reason.
Ten years ago the U.S. and the international community boycotted elections because opposition parties themselves chose to not participate, accusing that CEP of being controlled by the Fanmi Lavalas party. Today some of these same parties are being intentionally excluded from participating, along side the Fanmi Lavalas party. This glaring inconsistency in U.S. policy leaves the State Department open to accusations of partisan politics and clear hostility a political party, while at the same time raising questions about the efficacy of millions of dollars of aid funneled into the organization and the promotion of political parties now being excluded from the ballot.
Over the last two decades of U.S. and United Nations interventions in Haiti, a lot of speeches and statements have been made about building Haiti’s nascent democracy.
“Elections alone don’t make democracy” has been a popular catch phrase. Why are the U.S. and UN insistent on moving forward with elections so clearly doomed to fail?
The CEP is a nine-member body and five of the current members were part of the Council the first time Fanmi Lavalas was excluded from the ballot. The CEP is being accused of partisan bias, but a larger and more fundamental problem is the fact that the Council is still provisional.
Moreover the Haitian Constitution requires that each of the different sectors of the society of Haiti submits a name to become its representative as a member of the CEP. Mr. Préval violated the Constitution and convinced the different sectors to submit two names each, and to give him the right to choose one of these two people.
Some month ago a CEP member was forced to resign after being accused by one of his consultants of having taken his salary. Other CEP members allegedly wanted to keep the internal conflict concealed and asked the member to resign quietly but he refused. The president and director general of the CEP were also recently accused publicly by a Haitian senator of awarding a significant contract to the relative of a CEP official. Each of these incidents further undermines the CEP’s credibility.
As regards the candidats: the decision of the Provisional Electoral Council to accept candidates that has not been relieved of their responsibilities of handling public funds in elections in November, is an act done in contravention of the provisions of the Constitution of March 29, 1987.
They banned Wyclef Jean alleging he didn’t meet the requirements of the constitution; which states a candidate has to be resident in Haiti for 5 consecutive years before the election. But 2 other approved candidates did not meet the requirements and one of them has a US passport number (http://www.afaceaface.org/blog/?p=551).
President Préval can not be counted upon to hold fair, honest and credible elections, because every election that has ever been held under his leadership have all been contested for one reason or another. In his own words he stated that “he may not know how to hold elections, but he certainly knows how to win elections”. Everyone in Haiti and in the International Community knows that the elections are staged and they are going to be fraudulent, but they are ready to accept it on the pretext that Haiti is not a fully working democracy yet.
Only twenty years after an astounding show of popular participation in Haiti’s first democratic election, the majority of Haitians are disconnected if not indifferent when it comes to national elections.
However, the isolation of the rural population and most secondary cities from the tumultuous partisan politics of Port-au-Prince and the lack of trickle down policy from Haiti’s Parliament over the last fifteen years has led to apathy towards the national legislative race. Distortion of Reality Political discourse and activity is centralized in what is often referred to as “the Republic of Port-au-Prince.” Mainstream reports give disproportionate voice to the urban population. Port-au-Prince is not representative of the entire population of nearly ten million. The urban poor are mainly a transitional community of families forced to leave their homes in the countryside.
As long as democracy remains a game for the few well-funded groups in the Republic of Port-au-Prince, it is at the grassroots level that truly sustainable development strategies are being pursued, without the assistance or attention of the international community.
Haiti will always be remembered for unparalleled popular participation in its first democratic elections in 1990. That shining moment represented the self-determination of millions of Haitians, but it only took eight months for the government to be ousted and that dream deferred. In the peaceful years since the restoration of democracy in 1994, precious little attention and funding has gone towards building the institutions and popular consciousness necessary for a true democratic movement. As a result, elections in november 2010 will not only be fraudulent because of political exclusion, but more importantly, the alienation of the majority of Haitians from the democratic process.