FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–December 29, 2009
The Canada Haiti Action Network is expressing grave concern over the party registration process that has taken place in Haiti in advance of a national election set for February 28, 2010. Haiti will hold elections on that date for 98 of 99 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and ten seats of its 30-seat Senate.
Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council issued its list of approved parties and candidates in late November. The Fanmi Lavalas party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ruled off the ballot. Some 12 other, smaller parties were also ruled ineligible.
At a protest rally attending by thousands of Lavalas supporters in the capital city, Port au Prince, on December 16, Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the party’s executive council told the Reuters news network, “There will be no election in February, there will be a selection. What the authorities are planning is really a big farce.” More protests are promised by popular organizations.
In justifying its decision, the electoral council, a body appointed by Haiti’s president, said that a registration mandate sent by Aristide, who lives in exile in South Africa, is not authentic. In fact, the party presented an original mandate authenticated by a Haitian notary that complies with Haitian law. Aristide sent a fax of the mandate directly to the CEP and confirmed its authenticity in a rare and lengthy interview on Port au Prince’s Radio Solidarité.
This is the second time this year that the CEP has barred Fanmi Lavalas from an election. The first banning occurred in the election to eleven of the thirty seats in Haiti’s Senate that was held in two rounds in April and June of 2009.
Fanmi Lavalas is, “still considered the most popular political force in [Haiti]” (Reuters, Nov. 25th, 2009). It was founded in 1997 and won an overwhelming victory in the election of 2000. Aristide and Haiti’s other institutions of elected government were overthrown in February, 2004 by a combined paramilitary coup and foreign military intervention.
The 10,000 member United Nations military and police mission in Haiti has signalled its approval of the election exclusion. So, too, has Haiti’s Prime Minister, Jean Max Bellerive. The latter visited Canada earlier this month and met with at least two federal government ministers. A statement by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada on the meetings made no reference to the upcoming election.
Presently, a human rights investigative delegation is in Haiti for ten days. Participants include San Francisco-based journalist Kevin Pina and two members of the Canada Haiti Action Network.
For the full statement of the Canada Haiti Action Network, see http://canadahaitiaction.ca/?p=988. The Canada Haiti Action Network conducts information and awareness programs concerning Haiti in ten cities across Canada. View the group’s website at: http://canadahaitiaction.ca/. For further information on this news release or for interviews with eyewitnesses in Haiti, phone Roger Annis in Vancouver at 778 858 5179 or Niraj Joshi in Toronto at 416 731 2325.