Elections Without Voters: Further Erosion of Haiti’s Democracy and Self-Determination 15 Months after the Earthquake
Haiti and the International Community Await Results of Undemocratic Elections
Contact: Melinda Miles, Let Haiti Live, a project of TransAfrica Forum (English, Creole) 413-923-8345
Etant Dupain, Noise Travels, News Spreads (Spanish, French, Creole) 849-201-9997
For immediate release: April 4, 2011
Washington, DC: As Haitians along with the international community brace for the preliminary results of the second round in Haiti’s presidential and parliamentary elections, reports are minimizing the massive disenfranchisement, fraud and low voter turn-out in both the first and second rounds.
Haitian community organizer and independent journalist Etant Dupain explained: “Haitians fought for nearly two hundred years for the right to participate in their government. Over the last fifteen months since the earthquake, we have watched our right to determine the future of Haiti be eroded by foreign soldiers who control our nation, NGOs and an Interim Recovery Commission that is led by non-Haitians who determine how aid is allocated and spent. More than one million Haitians were physically displaced by the earthquake last year; now we are being displaced from determining the future of our country.”
“What does it mean to accept the winner of elections without voters? It is undemocratic on every level and illustrates a long-standing policy of lower standards when it comes to Haiti,” stated Melinda Miles, founder and director of the Let Haiti Live project at TransAfrica Forum. “Before the first round of elections, the U.S. and others pointed to the necessity of a democratic Haitian government with a popular mandate that could lead the reconstruction. However, the international community is poised to approve a government elected through a process that disenfranchised the majority of Haitian voters.”
Only ten months after an earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince and beyond, the international community put immense pressure on the Haitian Government to hold the first round of elections. It was widely believed that only a democratic election could give the government the credibility of a popular mandate, and finally the billions on pledged aid and reconstruction funds would be delivered to the country. However, these elections were deemed highly fraudulent by observers and participants. Even twelve of the presidential candidates called for the annulment of the elections before the polling closed on November 28, 2010.
After preliminary results were announced, the international community stepped in to analyze and recommend a change in the frontrunners, from the government-supported candidate to Michel Martelly, making the runoff a contest between two right-wing candidates, Martelly and Mirlande Manigat. The Organization of American States played a major role, along with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in persuading the electoral council and Haitian government to move forward with a second round despite widespread disenfranchisement of would-be voters, fraud and logistical errors during the first round.
Most disappointingly, on March 20, 2011 only a small percentage of eligible Haitian voters participated in the second round elections. Voting materials were late to polling stations and some never arrived, and the same problems with electoral lists repeated themselves despite the supposed best efforts of the OAS and electoral council to improve the process between November and March. Unlike previous election days, most Haitians in the capital city went about business as usual, and public transportation and roadside markets functioned normally. It is cynical for the results of an election with such dismal turnout to be accepted as either representative or democratic.