Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On the Political Front:

Haiti's next senatorial elections are on April 19th and last week the Provisional Electoral Council banned 40 candidates, including all 17 members of Fanmi Lavalas, former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's political party. Guy Phillipe, who led the armed revolt that ousted Aristide in 2004, has also been disqualified.

The OAS, the UN, and the American and Canadian Embassies have all issued statements expressing concern over this and calling for an inclusive election. But, it's a bit more complicated than it seems. In fact, the candidates were banned from the election after RNDDH (one of Haiti's leading human rights organizations, an MCC partner and a member of the platform where I work) published a list of the drug trafficking and human rights violations charges leveled against each candidate. For example, in addition to leading a bloody coup d'etat in 2004, Guy Phillipe was indicted in Miami on drug trafficking charges and has been wanted in the US since 2005.

Aristide is currently in exile in South Africa but has a lot of support in Haiti, especially among the urban poor. Fanmi Lavalas boycotted the 2006 election, and is now openly campaigning for 12 of Haiti's 30 senate positions. It's rumored that more Lavalas members are running under different party names. One of the Lavalas candidates is Aristide's former Minister of the Interior, who was jailed by the interim government.

So far and much to everyone's surprise, there haven't been any widespread protests about this. It sounds like after the intervention of the U.S., UN and OAS, the disqualified candidates will be given a chance to appeal. I'm not sure whether or not that's a good thing. Lavalas does have a violent reputation, so n ap tann ("we're waiting") to see what will happen.

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