Haiti's Doubtful Elections Cloud Future Recovery

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The Haitian people deserve a legitimately elected government that will begin to rebuild the political and civil institutions of the nation, step up the pace of debris removal, contain the cholera epidemic before warmer weather returns, and be a good steward of the billions of aid dollars trickling into Haiti

[National: Op-Ed]

Many Haitians and international observers have never felt Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to be legitimately organized under the Prevál government, and I remain convinced that the presidential election held on November 28th was deeply flawed and that the results should have been thrown out because of reports of ballot-stuffing; missing or excluded tally sheets at many polling locations; the exclusion of Lavalas, the country's largest political party; and the thousands of displaced persons who were disenfranchised either because they were unable to obtain new voter cards or because there were no accessible polling places at the tent camps where they now live.

It appears that the international community - led by the United States, Canada, and France - has used its tremendous power and influence to determine the outcome of the first round of the elections and the candidates for the runoff. Once again, the
people of Haiti have been denied the opportunity to express their will through free, fair, credible, and transparent elections - which are important factors for effective governance - and once again, it appears that the international community is determining the political fate of Haiti.

Just as I and other advocates for Haiti warned the State Department and our international allies prior to November 28th that we should play a role in helping to establish free and fair elections, we now are warning them that - with the combination of this electoral outcome; the unclear status of President Prevál's departure; the continued exclusion of Lavalas and other would-be electoral participants; Baby Doc's return and the reemergence of individuals who were part of his brutal Tonton Macoutes paramilitary force; and the widespread unrest among the Haitian people because of the political and humanitarian state of the nation - none of this bodes well for Haiti.

Since the United States strongly pushed for the adoption of the OAS report's recommendations --that Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly and Mirlande Manigat advance to a second round runoff next month-- our government must accept responsibility to try and turn this debacle into new possibilities for Haiti. The Haitian people deserve a legitimately elected government that will begin to rebuild the political and civil institutions of the nation, step up the pace of debris removal, contain the cholera epidemic before warmer weather returns, and be a good steward of the billions of aid dollars trickling into Haiti so that recovery and rebuilding from the earthquake is done in a transparent, accountable, and efficient manner.

Do we truly have the will to be of assistance to the Haitian people, and support their desire to govern themselves and to determine their own future, rather than playing the historical role of rearranging Haiti after the fact? And if so, where do
we go from here?

I continue to have reservations and questions about the judicial system and the Haitian government's operational infrastructure; the lack of transparency and accountability that has long plagued the government; and how any government that comes to power under these terms will be in a position to receive, disperse, and oversee the tremendous international resources that will be required to rebuild Haiti.

The decision has been made, but the possibility of a strong democracy to put Haiti on a path to a better future remains in question.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters represents California's 35th District


"Speaking Truth To Empower."


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