Saturday, February 11, 2006

Restless Haitian Demonstrators Demand Vote Results

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - "We voted for Preval to move this country." If there is a problem [with the election] we will have an explosion. There will not be enough water to put out the fire in this country." - Haitian voter, Jean-Paul LeBlante

Restless Haitian Demonstrators
Demand Vote Results

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
February 11, 2006

Judging from released election poll results, Rene Preval is the new president of Haiti. But, winning an election is no guarantee of assuming, or maintaining office, as recent history in Haiti and other "democratic" countries demonstrates. Former president, and protege of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, now living in exile in South Africa, Rene Preval had, at last count, achieved the better than 50% of the popular vote required to avoid a run-off vote and assume the presidential office, but further results have slowed to a crawl prompting calls of gerrymandering from Preval supporters.

As Reuters reports, hundreds of Preval supporters have marched in the capital, Port-au-Prince suspicious of the more than four day delay in tabulating the results. Earlier today, demonstrators surrounded the National Palace, reportedly tearing down opposition candidate's posters.

Rene Preval's campaign office too is tired of the wait, and has demanded documentation of the election council's claim of more than 100,000 "spoiled" ballots. The Preval camp has seen its official support numbers steadily sink from an initial exit poll estimate of more than 61%, to 51%, and expected to fall further as more votes are rendered "spoiled" by the election council.

Calls for an investigation of the process have also come from within the election council, with at least one councillor calling the process 'suspect." Patrick Fequiere says; "It should be investigated. It is suspect."

Millionaire garments industrialist and Preval opponent, Charles Baker is also making claims of voter fraud, demanding an investigation into the legitimacy of the election that saw him gain a paltry 8% of the popular vote.

Washington meanwhile has remained circumspect on the subject of who may be the next president; surprising considering the Bush administration's documented role in the overthrow of the former, democratically elected leader of the country and its support of the "interim" government authority.

Claude Parent, speaking for a mission representing eight countries in the Americas including Canada and the United States, says; "We think this election should be something that the international community should accept and we think the Haitian people should accept it."

Whether or not that happens has more to do with the "people" in Washington, Paris and Ottawa than the residents of Cite Soleil, or Bel Air.

Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News and host of Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

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