[News] Burned ballots inflame Haitian election tensions | Congresswoman Waters

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 15 08:50:35 EST 2006


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Burned ballots inflame Haitian election tensions
15 Feb 2006 03:16:25 GMT
Source: Reuters
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N14194834.htm

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Haiti's electoral council 
said on Tuesday it would launch an investigation after burned 
ballots, many cast a week ago for former president Rene Preval, were 
found still smoldering in a state dump.

Preval, a one-time ally of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide 
opposed by the same wealthy elite who helped drive Aristide from 
power two years ago, said on Tuesday that only "massive fraud" had 
prevented him from winning a first-round victory in the Feb. 7 election.

A few hours later, reports that hundreds and maybe thousands of 
ballots had been found discarded in a massive garbage dump in 
Port-au-Prince rippled through the ranks of Preval supporters, 
triggering anger and demonstrations after nightfall.

"That's absolutely unacceptable," said Rosemond Pradel, 
secretary-general of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) charged 
with organizing the impoverished Caribbean country's presidential 
election -- the first vote since Aristide was ousted by an armed 
revolt and international pressure to quit.

"The CEP was not handling the ballots," Pradel said. He said securing 
the ballots after they had been cast was the responsibility of the 
9,000-strong U.N. force trying to keep the peace in Haiti, known by 
its acronym MINUSTAH.

"I cannot answer to those problems but we are going to set up a 
commission to investigate the problem," Pradel said.

U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst said ballots were supposed to have been 
sealed in bags and placed in a container, protected by U.N. troops. 
"It's not normal to have these ballots there."

Wimhurst suggested the discarded ballots could have come from nine 
polling stations outside Port-au-Prince ransacked during the 
election, with the loss of around 35,000 votes. He also acknowledged 
that polling station workers, who were often of the same political 
group, could have engaged in fraud.

In the district of Truitier, where the burned ballots were found, 
angry Preval supporters and local residents denounced what they saw 
as an attempt to deny them a voice in Haiti's fractious and fragile democracy.

"The people are not going to accept losing their Feb. 7 vote," said a 
community leader who did not give his name.

He said residents had seen unfamiliar garbage trucks pulling up to 
the dump since last Thursday but hadn't thought anything of it.

"They took all Preval's ballots. They threw them away in order to 
prevent the vote of the people from passing. That is a crime," said 
Rene Monplaisir, an official in the Preval campaign.
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PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate 
Release                                           Contact:  Mikael Moore

February 15, 2006, 12:01 
a.m.                                           (202) 225-2201





CONGRESSWOMAN WATERS DENOUNCES THE OBVIOUS ATTEMPTS

TO STEAL THE ELECTIONS IN HAITI AND DENY RENE PREVAL THE PRESIDENCY

         Washington, D.C. - Today, on Capitol Hill, Rep. Maxine 
Waters (CA-35) released a statement on the elections in Haiti.  The 
elections took place on Tuesday, February 7, but the results have yet 
to be announced.  The Congresswoman's statement follows:

                     The obvious attempts to steal the elections in 
Haiti are blatant and shameful.  It is absolutely outrageous that the 
President Aristide-haters, the anti-Lavalas elites, and the United 
States Government would so openly and blatantly steal these elections.

                     The international community is witnessing yet 
another blow against the Haitian people by the same forces that 
forced President Aristide out of Haiti, the same forces who are 
responsible for all of the chaos and destabilization of this small 
country.  How much more can the Haitian people take?

                     The anti-Aristide forces have done everything in 
their power to imprison the leaders of the Lavalas Party and deny 
Lavalas leaders their right to run for office and their right to 
voice their opposition to the Group of 184, the Provisional Electoral 
Council, the puppet government, the International Republican 
Institute, and others who are determined to undermine democracy in 
Haiti.  President Bush must accept responsibility for the ongoing 
violence, the chaos, and the blatant attempts to steal these elections.

                     Early results showed an overwhelming victory for 
Rene Preval.  Many polling stations posted their results the day 
after the elections, and Preval won between 60% and 90% of the vote 
in all of these polling stations.  Last Thursday, the Provisional 
Electoral Council was reporting that Preval had 61.5% of the votes 
counted thus far.

                     Since that time, 125,000 ballots or 7.5% of the 
votes cast were declared invalid by the CEP because of alleged 
irregularities.  Another 4% of the ballots were allegedly blank but 
nevertheless included in the vote count, thereby making it more 
difficult for Preval to exceed 50%.

                     No one in their right mind could possibly 
believe that Rene Preval's lead plunged so quickly below the 50% 
required to avoid a runoff.  What are the people of Haiti to do?

                     Who in the international community will step 
forward and speak up against the obvious power-grab perpetrated on a 
nearly defenseless people?

                     I am totally disgusted with my own government 
and the role it played in this entire fiasco.  Is their no shame?  Is 
their no compassion?  Is their no decency?

                     I cannot believe the audacity of the United 
Nations and others to tell the Haitian people that they should not 
resist oppression and demand respect.  The Haitian people have 
suffered greatly at the hands of the United States, France and 
Canada, powerful nations who preach democracy and yet orchestrated 
the removal of the democratically-elected president of Haiti and 
drove him from his own country.

                     Is their no shame in the fact that the United 
States installed the puppet Prime Minister Gerard Latortue from Boca 
Raton, Florida, who proceeded to jail former Prime Minister Yvon 
Neptune on frivolous charges and jailed other Lavalas leaders like 
former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert, Haitian singer Anne 
Auguste and Father Gerard Jean-Juste without cause?  Is their no 
shame in the fact that the United States allowed Roger Noriega to 
conspire with Andy Apaid and the Group of 184 to manipulate Haitian 
students in cooperation with the Haitian elites in an attempt to grab 
control of that country for their own purposes?

                     Haven't the Haitian people suffered enough?  The 
man-made terror and violence coupled with natural disasters that have 
been inflicted upon the people of Haiti will be recorded in history 
as catastrophic events that caused tremendous loss of life and an 
unbearable and tragic existence for the Haitian people.

                     After all of this suffering, is the United 
States really prepared to stand by and deny the poorest of people who 
persevered on election day, walked for miles, and waited for hours 
for the right to elect persons of their choice?  If so, then the 
President of the United States does not deserve to use the word 
"democracy," for he neither respects nor supports it, but simply 
promotes the rhetoric of democracy to his own advantage.

                     I stand with the people of Haiti.  I stand with 
the Lavalas Party.  I stand with Rene Preval and his Party of 
Hope.  I stand with President Aristide.  I stand for justice, 
equality and democracy.  And I challenge the United States, France 
and Canada to correct their destructive behavior and give democracy a chance.

                     Rene Preval is obviously the elected president 
of Haiti.  He received considerably more than 50% of the vote, and he 
must be granted the right to serve without further interference, 
obstacles or violence.

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