Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Election Update: A Verification Show

Two weeks after the preliminary results were announced, the streets of Port-au-Prince are calm, but the situation is just as confusing and worrying. The international community urged candidates to go through the proper legal channels to dispute the results, but only Jude Celestin and Charles Henri Baker filed complaints, the former claiming he won 52% of the vote. Michel Martelly proposed a second round with all 17 candidates, again reafirming that he does not respect the Provisional Electoral Council. Mirlande Manigat will not accept anything other than a second round with two candidates, making sure to note that if the candidate second in line drops out (Celestin), the third one (Martelly) takes his place in the second round.

Reports of fraud have been increasing, as people are becoming increasingly sure  that the entire election was a sham.  The Haiti Democracy Project shows, for example, how the results were altered in favor of a ruling party candidate in Ouanaminthe. The website presents images of carbon copies of the official returns of the polling place, alongside results posted by the CEP and you can see how 11 becomes 111, 30 becomes 130... Unless HDP had done their research and posted this online, these fraudulent reports would not have been given any attention. 

But despite its complete lack of credibility with a majority of Haitians, the Electoral Council is now in the process of verifying the results, with technical assistance from an OAS mission that Preval called for. Can we really expect the CEP and the OAS, two groups involved in these less-than-perfect elections from the very beginning, to do an effective recount of an election marred by fraud at at every single level? Of course not. But the show must go on. Which is exactly what this verification business is: a show going on while representatives of the international community try to convince Preval to have Celestin remove himself from the race, while the CEP tries to figure a way out of the mess that they've helped create, and while political leaders continue to look for ways to turn the situation into a win for them (are they aware that they've all already lost?).  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Video: Ballot Stuffing in Cite Soleil?

According to unconfirmed sources, this video was filmed by UN peacekeepers in Cite Soleil. Make of it what you will.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beirut, Haiti

The radio has been on for so long that I am barely listening anymore. More protests, barricades, tires burning, shots being fired all over the country. "Can you confirm that someone has died?". "Yes, there is a body on the ground right next to me." As I listen to the reporter's agitated voice, the immensity and sadness of the situation starts to settle in, and I feel less and less hopeful about a resolution to this. The CEP's announcement that it wants to form a commission to verify results, with the ultimate aim of 'protecting lives', seems inconsequential, almost humourous, as do the other proposed solutions, thought of by men and women sitting comfortably around living rooms and offices: a second round with three candidates? a second round with Martelly and Manigat? an annulment of the elections?

But then what? How will these political solutions fix something that has become about so much more than politics?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

what fraud looks like...

If you go on the Provisional Electoral Council website, you can find a list of all the reports with results from each polling booth and each polling center. The following are some reports from the Ecole Nationale Mixte voting center in Ouanaminthe (Nord-Est), in which there are a total of 43 booths.
Going through each report, you notice the following tendency:
On average 120 people (out of 400 assigned) voted in each booth
More than half of them voted for Mirlande Manigat
Less than 10 people voted for Jude Celestin

 This is what almost all of the reports look like for this center: 
Total Votes:114, Manigat: 94, Celestin: 6

Total votes: 134 Manigat: 102 Celestin: 9

And then (hidden in the middle of the list) you have this random report:

Total votes: 333, Manigat: 108, Celestin: 212 

So in this one booth, not only did 333 of the 400 people go vote (as opposed to about 120),  over half of those people voted for Celestin (as opposed to less than 10). Did I mention that the voting booths are organized alphabetically? Maybe most of the people with last names starting with an M decided to go vote, and over half of them voted for Celestin?

For a complete list, or if you want to look for irregularities yourself (it's kind of fun): Liste de Proces Verbaux

Words of the Day, December 8th

4:15 PM In what was the shortest statement of the day, Michel Martelly urged his supporters to 'veye anwo, veye anba', to keep protesting to defend their vote, all the while avoiding the use of violence. He announced (unsurprisingly) that he will not accept the results and accused the CEP of causing chaos in the country.

1:00 PM Preval just appeared on national T.V urging candidates who do not agree with the announced results to make their claims through the electoral disputes process as prescribed by the electoral law.  He called on Haitians to protest peacefully, defended the credibility of the Electoral Council, and emphasized its role as the 'ultimate referee' in all election matters. In response to questions about the lack of correlation between the announced results and the polls/ CNO results, Preval simply answered "Sondaj pa resulta": polls are not results.

Update: Que vas tu faire, Mr. Le President?

The American Embassy and the Private Sector Economic Forum have both released statements saying the announced results do not correlate with most other results which confirmed a Manigat-Martelly second round. This morning again, people have taken to the streets, some chanting peacefully (see video below), others taking the 'kraze brize" route (break and destroy). One source living near the Provisional Electoral Council (PEC) office in Petionville reports fire burning, roads blocked, and people yelling: "KEP, KEP LEU NOU VOTE NOU PA JOUER..." (PEC, PEC,when we vote we don't mess around).

No one is messing around, Mr. Preval. People made it clear from the beginning: Jude Pap Pase (Jude will not go through). So what will you do now, Mr. Preval? Leave? No, that would be too easy. Perhaps it's time for a sacrifice. Perhaps it's time for Jude Celestin to remove himself from the race? Prophet N has received word that Preval is indeed contemplating such a move, but only he knows what he will actually do... 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Have your say, America.

"Like others, the Government of the United States is concerned by the Provisional Electoral Council's announcement of preliminary results from the November 28 national elections that are inconsistent with the published results of the National Election Observation Council (CNO), which had more than 5,500 observers and observed the vote count in 1,600 voting centers nationwide, election-day observations by official U.S. observers accredited bythe CEP, and vote counts observed around the country by numerous domestic and international observers."
Source: Unites States Embassy in Haiti Website http://haiti.usembassy.gov/press-releases-2012/untitled6.html

Ayayay Haiti, encore de la misere pour toi

My sister looks up in shock as we hear gunshots near the house. I'm on the phone with my aunt who is hiding in her house in the middle of Petion-Ville, hiding from the gunshots, the bullets falling into her yard, the tires burning in front of the gate. I can't even imagine how scary this must be for people living in tents, no shelter against the fire, against the rocks, against the rage.    

Why isn't Michel Martelly already on the radio telling his supporters to calm down? To stop destroying the little we have left of a country?

Resultats Preliminaires - Breaking News

1 Mirlande Manigat: 31.37 %
2 Jude Celestin: 22.48%
3 Michel Martelly: 21.89%

Jude pase. Sak pral pase?

lose-lose situation?

Provisional results are to be announced today. The city is relatively calm, as schools are closed and people are heading home early. Opinions differ about what may or may not happen: if Jude Celestin goes through, there will be trouble. If Jude Celestin doesn't go through, there may or may not be trouble.

But no matter what happens, Haiti doesn't win. No matter what happens, our future leader will have been elected through a highly tainted, highly controversial election. He/She will have lost a certain degree of credibility and trust, adding yet another item to the list of challenges that awaits him/her. And once again, Haiti will be an example of ways not to do things.

c'est quoi la volonte du peuple?

On November 29th, a day after the confusing end to the elections that were meant to bring change to Haiti, Haitians and foreigners alike woke up unsure of what to expect, hesitating to go back to normal life, not knowing whether or not the country would 'explode'. People tried to ascertain who would give in, who would protest, whether or not we would be moving forward or backwards. The quiet on the streets was both reassuring and frightening (was this the calm before the storm?) and statement by statement, key players changed the course of history.

In what was perhaps one of the most important statements of the week, Edmond Mulet, head of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti,  announced that the UN will pull out of the country if the 'will of the people' is not respected.  I'm a little unsure, Mr. Mulet, about what the will of the people is, amid reports and rumors of massive fraud, ongoing calls for the annulment of the elections, polls showing a Jude Celestin-Mirlande Manigat second round, quickcounts showing a Michel Martelly-Mirlande Manigat second round, and (unpublished) reports showing Jude Celestin winning in the first round. In fact, I'm entirely doubtful, Mr. Mulet, that the will of the people will ever be respected.