Global Policy Forum

Lawmakers Urge Clinton to Ensure Haiti Elections are Inclusive

A group of US lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging the US to support the November elections in Haiti only if they include all eligible political parties. Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council has excluded candidates from more than a dozen parties, including the country's largest party, Fanmi Lavalas, which maintains allegiance to exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The after-effects of the earthquake which displaced 1.5 million people will mean Haiti's next government will have many difficult decisions to make concerning long-term reconstruction. Conferring those decisions on a government that is perceived as illegitimate, say the authors, is "a recipe for disaster."




October 8, 2010



The United States should support November elections in Haiti only if they include all eligible political parties, a group of United States lawmakers said in a letter sent this week to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Failure to hold free, fair and inclusive presidential and legislative elections on Nov. 28, the letter warned, could endanger Haiti's governance and reconstruction after the earthquake on Jan. 12, which wrecked the capital and killed up to 300,000 people.

In the letter, Democratic members of Congress expressed concern that Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council had excluded candidates from more than a dozen parties, including the country's largest, Fanmi Lavalas, which is loyal to the exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The council also excluded the popular Haitian-American hip-hop star Wyclef Jean as a presidential candidate. No reason was given, but Mr. Jean said he was rejected because he did not meet the requirement of having lived in Haiti for five consecutive years before the elections.

Among the candidates the council approved were Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady and university administrator; Yvon Neptune, a former prime minister; Leslie Voltaire, an architect active in reconstruction planning; and Michel Martelly, a musician known as Sweet Micky.

The lawmakers urged Mrs. Clinton to demand the elections include all eligible political parties and easy access to voting for all Haitians, including 1.5 million people displaced by the quake.

A State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, promised the department would "look into these allegations."

"Obviously, we want free, fair and democratic, transparent elections to take place in Haiti as well," he said.

Led by the United Nations, the international community is financing and supporting the elections in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest state, as part of a multibillion-dollar postquake aid and reconstruction effort.

The letter said, "Haiti's next government will be called upon to make difficult decisions in the reconstruction process that will have a lasting impact on Haitian society, such as land reform and allocation of reconstruction projects."

It added that conferring those decisions on a government perceived as illegitimate "is a recipe for disaster."

The head of the United Nations mission in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, said last week that conditions existed for successful, credible elections, including 19 candidates for president, the participation of 66 political parties and the registration of more than four million voters. President René Préval cannot seek re-election after two terms in office.

"You have quite an interesting diversity of candidates from different groups and ideologies," Mr. Mulet said, adding, "The choice is there."

Haiti's general elections were originally due to take place on Feb. 28, but were postponed because of the earthquake. The Provisional Electoral Council had already blocked Mr. Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party from participating in 2009 legislative contests because of a dispute over rival candidate lists. Electoral officials said party leaders did not provide required registration documents, and its exclusion was upheld for the November voting.


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