Haiti election fiasco
The US-sponsored local and parliamentary elections that took place in Haiti on June 25 were a fiasco. Polling booths failed to open, voters' names were not on the electoral register, official candidates did not appear on ballots, election materials were scarce and confusion reigned.
The election results will not be announced before July 5, leaving space for everything from fraud to old-fashioned horse-trading.
Desperate for an international "victory", the UN and US pushed hard for the elections to take place in order to legitimise the US-led intervention and occupation of Haiti in the face of widespread disenchantment at the high cost of living, massive unemployment and complete lack of justice since the invasion.
To salvage what they can from the disastrous polling, US officials are pointing to the supposed lack of violence. "A peaceful balloting process occurred in a country where violence has so often marked past elections", said Brian Atwood, head of the US Agency for International Development, which provided some $11.3 million in "electoral assistance".
In fact, violence was not lacking. The voting bureau in Kenscoff was burned to the ground. In Carrefour, an election official was shot at a voting station. Voting was cancelled in three northern towns after election offices were attacked and ballots burned. Several candidates around the country were attacked, and one candidate for deputy was murdered in the south.
While the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), the US-funded and Haitian government-appointed organisation that ran the elections, also gave a favourable verdict, the Haitian people's perspective was decidedly different.
Only 25%-50% of voters turned out for the elections. The lack of response casts doubt on the CEP's claim to have enrolled a record 3.5 million voters, 300,000 more than were eligible in the 1990 elections. It probably also reflects the election boycott campaign conducted by the National Popular Assembly (APN). The APN congratulated the Haitian people for demonstrating its "vigilance and political maturity ... [in choosing] to stay home and not participate in the bogus elections organised by the occupation forces".
[Abridged from Haiti Progres.]