Lone Haiti-Based Haitian Blogger on Recent Haitian Elections

Yon Ayisyen, the sole Haiti-based Haitian blogger complains (FR) that he does not have an internet connection at home. But that has not stopped him from blogging regularly if not always promptly about the recent presidential elections.

Special Rules for Favored Candidate?

Riots over the possibility of a runoff in Haiti's presidential elections received lots of press coverage two weeks ago. In a post titled “The VIP Candidate” Yon Ayisyen, devotes (FR) some blogging ink to the legal implications of the rioters’ demands. He deplores an electoral culture that does not tolerate less than a landslide victory for a favored candidate, often at the detriment of existing rules:

Preval's followers “demanded” squarely that their candidate be “proclaimed” victor on the first round and that was true even before ballots were fully counted. They do not want blank votes to be counted … Question: Why contest the counting of blank votes now and not last year when the electoral decree was published? Answer: Because counting blank votes as valid votes does not favor their candidate.

Yon Ayisyen also deplores another manifestation of the lack of adherence to the rule of law during the electoral process. He points out that a commission of members of the electoral council, the government and of Preval's party LESPWA was created in violation of a clause of the electoral decree that provides for a period of contestation after the official publication of results. He adds:

But since candidate Preval is the big favorite, he couldn't possibly be treated like everybody else; those who are eyeing possible appointments in his future government must naturally start courting him now. … So LESPWA has the right to contest results even before they are published while other candidates must wait for the decreed contestation period. … The rule of law and other decrees apply to neither Preval nor his supporters.

A Chaotic Election

In his post “The Flatterers”, Yon Ayisyen reports irregularities that took place during the election:

While voters lined up well before voting was scheduled to start, voting booths did not open until hours later. … In certain voting centers, voters forced their way in because they were tired of waiting; in others they waited for the center to open but tripped over each other on the way in.

Yon Ayisyen zeroes in specifically on a voting center for Cite Soleil residents which a friend of his described as chaotic. He explains that election observers stood outside instead of inside the center and that the center offered so little privacy that it would have been very hard to vote for anyone other than the favored Preval. He reports rumors that wanted gang leaders had voted in Cite Soleil centers.

In another post entitled “Chaos,” Yon Ayisyen recounts:

Many voted in centers other than those where they were registered. The learning curve for democracy is quite steep.

Yon Ayisyen also reports that voting booths and therefore voter privacy were absent in most centers.

Reminiscing Preval's First Presidency

In a post entitled “Preval the ex-President”, Yon Ayisyen thinks back to Preval's 1997 presidency when the blogger was 17:

I do not conceive of a sane person wanting Preval for president. This is the man who once told the people to “escape via the sea.” … No matter how much I rake my brain I cannot find a single good memory of this president. Back then I was convinced that the only reason for his election was that people were fed up with three years of a long embargo. … [W]hat mattered most to people was that food and other daily necessities were once again available [at a reasonable price]… Corruption, crime, nepotism, impunity and a little before the end of his term he left us his most memorable legacy: the highjacking of an election that took place under his watch.

In his latest post “Ironic”, Yon Ayisyen compares Lavalas supporters’ reactions to discarded ballots in the 2000 election organized by Preval to this year's election and finds a discrepancy:

[In 2000] protesters did not make a big deal of the ballots found discarded in the streets. They didn't care that “the people's” vote had been thrown away less than 24 hours after the election … Indeed the Lavalas party won those elections as the militants who had “taken to the streets” had hoped.

But Yon Ayisyen contends that in 2006, discarded ballots elicit different reactions from Lavalas supporters:

Brouhaha among Preval's supporters who for the most part are also Lavalas supporters. “The people‘s vote was treated like garbage” they say. “They stole my vote. They stole the people's vote. … The people voted for Preval, give us Preval. We've already voted, we won't vote again.” … Pure hypocrisy. … They tolerate electoral fraud when it benefits them but otherwise they call it a crime.


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