Haiti Needs Free and Fair Elections.
Statement by the Canada Haiti Action Network on the April 19th Senate elections in Haiti.
April 16, 2009 – On Sunday April 19th, Haitians will vote in a partial Senate election to fill 12 of Haiti’s 30 Senate seats. The election is the subject of controversy for its exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular political party in Haiti.
Haiti’s Provisional Election Council (CEP)’s initially barred Lavalas candidates citing a split in the party that led to the submission of two slates of candidates. The exclusion of Lavalas initially prompted the UN, the US, and Canada to call for compromise. Canadian ambassador Gilles Rivard issued a statement saying that elections “must unite, not divide, the population” and the US and the UN issued similar calls for political reconciliation.
This international pressure pushed the CEP to extend the deadline for registering candidates, and Lavalas issued a single compromise list of candidates. However, the CEP then excluded Lavalas on procedural grounds, claiming that the signature of the head of the party, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was needed on paperwork finalising the list. Aristide remains in exile in South Africa after a Canada, France, and United States supported coup overthrew his elected government on February 29th, 2004.
On March 9, 2009 a tribunal led by judge Jean-Claude Douyon ruled to overturn the CEP decision. The CEP stated that it would ignore the judge’s ruling, and on April 3rd, President Rene Preval’s Minister of Justice fired Douyon. Many in Haiti now see the CEP’s decision as a manipulation by Preval’s Lespwa party to exclude Lavalas. Preval won the 2006 Presidential elections with the support of Lavalas, whose own Presidential candidate was held as a political prisoner by the unelected 2004-2006 interim regime.
The UN, the US, and Canada have stayed silent on the CEP’s second ruling and the UN military force MINUSTAH, whose 9000 troops have occupied Haiti since June 2004, is cooperating with the CEP in distributing election material.
The Canada Haiti Action Network calls on the UN and the governments of Canada, the US, and Haiti to renounce the undemocratic exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas and the continued exile of former President Aristide. Support for these policies does nothing to contribute to inter-Haitian reconciliation, and only exacerbates political tensions among a people that have heroically struggled for peace.
For more information from the Canada Haiti Action Network, please contact:
Regan Boychuk 403-479-8637 // Stuart Hammond 604-338-2558 (French inquiries)
For information on Canada and Haiti see the Canada Haiti Action Network website at:
For more background on the elections, see: