Haiti's Electoral Council Tries Alternate Ways to Legitimize Fraud - by Stephen Lendman
It's almost surreal following Haiti's November 28 elections, a process elevating fraud to a new level. So bad, in fact, most candidates demanded voiding it and starting over, but no matter. On December 9, New York Times Deborah Sontag headlined, "Haitian Vote Results to Be Reviewed," saying:
"Seeking to defuse the violent protests that have shut down this country for two days, Haiti's electoral council (CEP) promised....to rapidly review the widely mistrusted preliminary results...."
Honest observers and most candidates condemned them, citing brazen fraud, widespread ballot box stuffing, polling stations opening late, closing early, or not opening at all, staffing them with functional illiterates, omitting voter names from rolls, others told their ID cards were invalid, and numerous other examples of electoral illegitimacy, mocking a free and open process.
Nonetheless, the recount was ordered to validate it as well as placate angry voters and candidates. It didn't so diplomats considered Plan B, including France's Ambassador Didier Le Bret saying alternative solutions have been discussed to prevent Haiti from slipping into political chaos. They include:
-- disgruntled candidates given three days through December 15 to appeal;
-- establishing a transitional government to organize new elections;
-- letting all candidates participate in the scheduled January 16 second round; and
-- letting new approved ones participate, excluding those representing Fanmi Lavalas.
The Electoral Act's Section 40.1 (1) permits a runoff possibility with more than two candidates, stating:
"....if there is a tie between candidates who obtained the greatest number of votes in the first round, they all participate in the second round." An electoral tie or close to it may mean "very similar results between two or more candidates" because contrary to Section 42, there's no mention of "perfect equality."
As a result, perhaps compromise is allowed, Article 40.1 saying if first round balloting produces no majority winner, a runoff between the two highest vote getters will do so. However, in case of virtual ties among more than two, they can all participate in a second round.
The combination of mass protests, violence, public embarrassment, and rare dominant media indignation dictate something be done to resolve things, more than putting a brave face on transparent fraud, bad enough to bother some right-wing journalists who never met "free market" despots they didn't love, including in Haiti.
The Wall Street Journal's Mary O'Grady for one, an earlier article describing her unmatched extremism; her space a virtual truth-free zone; her language hateful and vindictive; her tone malicious and slanderous; her style bare-knuckled thuggishness; and her material calculating, mendacious, and shameless.
Yet on December 13 she surprised, in part at least, headlining her latest op-ed, "Haiti's Preval Tries to Steal an Election," saying:
"....Preval seems to regard election fraud as an entitlement." It's a refreshing change from her usual rhetoric, a nice try, but not good enough. Washington controls Preval. Blaming him takes the easy way out in lieu of pointing fingers where they belong - at Obama power brokers choreographing everything, blaming Preval for what went wrong, reportedly with marines close by aboard one or more ships ships, ready to storm ashore if needed to restore calm and take over.
Preval merely followed orders, what O'Grady won't admit, even while criticizing Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, AWOL in Honduras on other business, not in Port-au-Prince where she wants him, resolving the electoral crisis before it spins more out-of-control than already.
Did he go? "Nope," and what about Haitians. Again she surprised, saying they "displayed near-saintly patience and stoic resilience (in spite) of Mr. Preval's dismal performance. (The election) was supposed (to) change horses. Mr. Preval and his henchmen had other ideas, and for good reason," ignoring the obvious, citing instead Haiti's "legendary....government corruption."
Nonetheless, she described a selection, not an electoral process for Jude Celestin (Preval's choice) and ruling INITE party legislative control. He made the runoff, finishing second while INITE candidates won a two-thirds parliamentary majority in first round balloting, angering even O'Grady by their brazen fraud.
"The US may be waking up to this reality," she said, disingenuously expressing "concern," not outrage like Haitians and honest observers. "The CEP responded (saying) it will 'recount' the presidential votes. That's not good enough coming from the institution that has had custody of the ballots for two weeks, and Haitians know it. Someone needs to break the news to Mr. Preval." More urgently, to Washington, the real scoundrel deserving blame, one O'Grady won't name, especially when extremist Republicans have control, her favorites.
A Final Comment
So far, two of top three presidential candidates, Mirlande Manigat, finishing first, and Michel Martelly, third best (both establishment figures) rejected the proposed recount. Others denounced the process, most demanding new elections.
Then on December 11, former Alaska governor, vice presidential candidate, and caricature of a political leader, Sarah Palin, arrived in Port-au-Prince with evangelist Franklin Graham (a pro-war, Islamophobe hatemonger) on a bogus humanitarian mission. Likely, it was a presidential aspirant's campaign stunt, one unqualified for any public office let alone the nation's highest. AP said her "trip was largely closed to the press and she declined to take questions at (a carefully orchestrated) news conference."
So far, Haiti's political crisis is unresolved. Sporadic violence continues. Greater eruptions may resume anytime. Raging cholera keeps spreading. Aid for stricken earthquake victims remains woefully inadequate, and Preval's CEP opened a hearing, inviting disgruntled candidates to appeal, trying to restore calm.
A joint US, France, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Spain, UN, EU and OAS statement "encourage(d) the use of all legal avenues to advance a credible electoral process to ensure that the final results fully reflect the will of the Haitian voters," stopping well short of condemning electoral fraud, demanding first round balloting be voided, and calling for new elections as soon as possible.
On December 12, AP reported that US deportations to Haiti will resume, saying:
ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said "the US expects to begin flying deportees with criminal records back to Haiti in January in coordination with Haiti's government," no matter how dire the conditions. She left unexplained what alleged criminality she means or if something contrived is being used to remove unwanted people, ones America never welcomed and doesn't want now.
US Senator Patrick Leahy (D. VT) wants Haitian aid halted and visas for officials and their families suspended until a credible settlement is reached, or at least the appearance of one. Senator Richard Lugar (R. IN) blamed Preval for poor organization. Haitians demand justice, what Washington and world leaders refuse, manipulating events for some discrete solution, benefitting them, not popular need under real democratic governance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.