Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Haiti: Elections - Trying to Legitimize the Illegitimate

Source: Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, November 23, 2010 - The actions of an illegitimate electoral council supported by international actors have set Haiti on course for undemocratic elections which may lead to widespread social unrest, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) said in a report released today.

The eleven-page report, Haiti's November 28 Elections: Trying to Legitimize the Illegitimate, was written as a follow-up to IJDH's June report which called on the international community to pressure the Haitian Government to hold free and fair elections. IJDH's latest report describes the failure of the international community to heed its warnings and provides a legal analysis of the irregularities leading up to Sunday's November 28 elections.

Among flaws highlighted in the report are the scandals involving the Electoral Council's running of the elections; the Council's exclusion of Haiti's most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas; and the Council's inadequate preparations for the elections. Haiti's November 28 Elections also explains that the United States and other international donors have committed to funding and working with the Electoral Council, ignoring allegations of fraud, unconstitutional activity, and the politically motivated exclusion of candidates and entire political parties.

"The international community has pushed and paid for swift elections hoping to secure a stable government to preserve its investment in earthquake reconstruction in Haiti," said IJDH Staff Attorney and lead author of the report, Nicole Phillips. "But by supporting elections that exclude legitimate political parties, it is only assuring the very social and political unrest it hopes to avoid."

The report details Haitian voters' ongoing efforts to communicate their opposition to exclusionary elections through their boycott of the 2009 elections, their demonstrations in the streets, and their rejection of the upcoming elections in the press and in political meetings. While recent protests in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitian have been demonized by certain media outlets and international actors, Haiti's November 28 Elections sheds light on the reasons behind the mounting frustration in the days leading up to the elections. The authors conclude that interest in the elections is as low as the stakes in their outcomes are high.

The objective of IJDH's latest report is to provide the international community with the proper context in which to view the upcoming elections regardless of the outcome. "The next Haitian government will need to ask its citizens to make sacrifices in order to implement the reconstruction plans," said Brian Concannon Jr., Director of IJDH. "A government can obtain these kinds of sacrifices in two ways: it can develop trust, or it can use force." According to the report, the requisite trust can only be developed through elections that are truly free and fair.

Haiti's November 28 Elections: Trying to Legitimize the Illegitimate can be found at

About the Organizations

The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), established in 2004, fights for human rights and justice in Haiti and for fair and just treatment of Haitians in the United States.