As Election Boycott Takes Shape: World Intellectuals and Activists Call to Annul Elections

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Mirlande Manigat (right) and Michel Martelly are scheduled to run-off in an illegal Mar. 20 election. Popular organizations, presidential candidates, and prominent voices worldwide are calling for new elections.

This year’s Carnaval “is not really taking,” explains Yves Pierre-Louis, an organizer with the Heads Together of Popular Organizations (Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè), a broad front of Haitian grassroots groups.

Crowds have been thin and enthusiasm weak during the current Mardi Gras celebration (which culminates Mar. 8) due to a lack of government funding and a malaise which hangs over the country where more than one million earthquake victims remain homeless in growingly tattered IDP camps and where “a mockery of an election, which will result in the ‘selection’ of one of two arch-reactionaries to be President, is being shoved down our throat by the so-called international community,” he said.

the election is illegal under Haiti’s Constitution and Electoral Law.

The run-off, between former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and former konpa singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly is scheduled to take place on Mar. 20, and the two candidates are crisscrossing Haiti with campaign rallies in towns, large and small.

There is only one small problem: the election is illegal under Haiti’s Constitution and Electoral Law. Only four of the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) have voted to proceed with the second round, one short of the five necessary. Furthermore, the first round results have not been published in the journal of record, Le Moniteur, and President René Préval has not officially convoked Haitians to vote, both constitutional requirements.

In this election, it is the United Nations [UN] and Organization of American States [OAS], both acting on Washington’s behalf, who are convoking the people to vote for the candidates whom they have designated,” Pierre-Louis said. (Last month, the OAS forced the CEP – legally, the “final arbiter” of Haitian elections – to replace Jude Célestin, the candidate of Préval’s party, with Martelly in the run-off.)

In response, Tèt Kole and a number of other organizations and parties are organizing a demonstration in the capital on Mar. 15 to call for a boycott of the elections and exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return.

Meanwhile, four other presidential candidates – Jean Henri Céant, Yves Cristallin, Jacques Edouard Alexis, and Charles Henri Baker – have called for annulment of the elections, whose first round was severely marred by massive and widespread voter fraud, violence and disenfranchisement. “We want the annulment, pure and simple, of the shameful Nov. 28 election,” Cristallin said.

Last week, The Guardian (UK) published an open letter signed by prominent figures like author and linguist Noam Chomsky, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, actor Danny Glover, British Pakistani intellectual Tariq Ali, and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, among others. The letter, which calls for new elections and Aristide’s return, was published simultaneously in French in last week’s Haïti Liberté. Since that time, a number of other well-known and well-respected figures have signed on to the letter, including Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat, Uruguayan author and historian Eduardo Galeano, British parliamentarian John McDonnell, and philosopher Cornel West.

Below we reproduce the complete letter in English along with the updated list of signers.

Over the next few years, much of Haiti will be rebuilt and much of its economy restructured. In response to last year’s earthquake an unprecedented amount of money has been promised for reconstruction. It’s more important than ever before that Haiti be governed by an administration that reflects the true will and interests of its people, rather than the concerns of foreign governments and corporations.

In 2004, the U.S., France and Canada, in alliance with members of Haiti’s business community and demobilized soldiers of the Haitian army, overthrew the last Haitian government to enjoy genuine popular support; the party that led this government, Fanmi Lavalas, was elected with around 75% of the vote. This past November, these same powers imposed and funded an illegitimate electoral process in Haiti, one that blocked the participation of Fanmi Lavalas. Only 23% of Haitian voters participated, scarcely a third of the proportion who voted in the last presidential election.

In recent weeks, the U.S. and its proxies have brazenly interfered in the interpretation of this election’s first round of results. The flawed November vote was not only inconclusive and unrepresentative, its outcome was also unlawful. If the second round of these elections goes ahead as planned on 20 March, it is now sure to result in the unconstitutional selection of a president with closer ties to the powers that sponsored and manipulated them than to the people meant to participate in them.

At the same time, the powers that dominate Haiti have facilitated the return of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier while discouraging the return of twice-elected president (and Fanmi Lavalas leader) Jean-Bertrand Aristide. These powers, with their allies in the Haitian business community, have made it clear that they seek to delay Aristide’s return until after 20 March. They will only allow Aristide to return after a suitably pliant new government has been installed, to preside over the imminent reconstruction process.

We the undersigned call on the Haitian government to make the security arrangements that will enable Aristide’s immediate return, and we call on the international community to support rather than undermine these efforts. We call on the Haitian government to cancel the second round vote scheduled for 20 March and to organise a new round of elections, without exclusions or interference, to take place as soon as possible.

Signed:

Marie Célie Agnant, writer

Tariq Ali, writer

Andaiye, Red Thread, Guyana

Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network

Reginald Antoine, PEVEP

Molefi Kete Asante, President, Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies

Alain Badiou, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris)

Brian Becker, National Coordination, ANSWER Coalition

Emile Wilnes Brumer, Mas Popilè Site Solèy

Sara Callaway, Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike, UK

Yves Camille, Haiti Liberté

Jean-Claude Cajou, community activist

Noam Chomsky, MIT

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General

Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Dan Coughlin, Executive Director, Manhattan Neighborhood Network

Edwidge Danticat, author

Ezili Dantò, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network

Mike Davis, UC Riverside

Castro Desroches, SUNY

Rea Dol, SODUPEP

Berthony Dupont, Haiti Liberté

Ben Dupuy, Haiti Progrès & Parti Populaire National

Darren Ell, Montreal-Haiti Solidarity Committee

Joe Emersberger, writer

Yves Engler, writer

Anthony Fenton, journalist

Weiner Kerns Fleurimond, Haiti Liberté

Pierre L. Florestal, Fanmi Lavalas – NY

Daniel Florival, Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo

Sara Flounders, International Action Center

Laura Flynn, Aristide Foundation for Democracy board

Eduardo Galeano, historian and journalist, Uruguay

Danny Glover, actor & activist, Board Chair, TransAfrica Forum

Leah Gordon, photographer & curator

Manu Goswami, NYU

Greg Grandin, NYU

Thomas Griffin, lawyer

Prince Guetjens, writer

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

Peter Hallward, Kingston University London

Georges Honorat, Haiti Progrès

Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté

Selma James, Global Women’s Strike, UK

Dr. G. Carlo Jean, educator

Marlène Jean-Noel, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY

Tony Jean-Thénor, Veye Yo

Frantz Jerome, Coalition Against Occupation and Sham Elections

Evelt Jeudi, Fanmi Lavalas Miami

Jude Geffrard Joseph, Radio Pa Nou, Brooklyn

Mario Joseph, Office of International Lawyers (BAI)

Farah Juste, representative of Fanmi Lavalas for Florida & the Bahamas

Michelle Karshan, Aristide Foundation for Democracy

Katharine Kean, film-maker

Ira Kurzban, Counsel for the Republic of Haiti from 1991-2004

Pierre Labossière, Haiti Action Committee

Ray Laforest, International Support Haiti Network

Frantz Latour, Haiti Liberté

Andrew Leak, University College London

Didier Leblanc, Haiti Liberté

Jacques Elie Leblanc, Haiti Liberté

Maude Leblanc, Haiti Progrès

Richard Ledes, film director

Nicole Lee, President, TransAfrica Forum

Jack Lieberman, Haiti Solidarity Committee, Miami

Nina López, Legal Action for Women, UK

Gardy Lumas, PEVEP

Isabel Macdonald, journalist

Albert Maysles, film-maker

John McDonnell, Member of Parliament, UK

Yves Mésidor, Mas Popilè Site Solèy

Johnny Michel, Mas Popilè Site Solèy  

Melinda Miles, Let Haiti Live

Georges Mompremier, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY

Fednel Monchery, Jeunesse pour la République (JPR)

Joia S. Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer, Partners In Health

Nick Nesbitt, Princeton University

Harry Numa, community activist

Vanel Louis Paul, Mas Popilè Site Solèy

Gladys Timmer Phillpotts, Fanmi Lavalas Baz St. Francis

Fritzner Pierre, radio host of Dyalog Popilè

Wadner Pierre, Haitianalysis.com

Yves Pierre-Louis, Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo

Kevin Pina, Haiti Information Project

Margaret Prescod, Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike, USA

Jackson Rateau, Haiti Liberté

Jane Regan, journalist

Roosevelt René, engineer

Corey Robin, Brooklyn College & CUNY

William Robinson, UCSB

Nicolas Rossier, film-maker

Robert Roth, Haiti Action Committee

Jean Saint-Vil, writer

Alina Sixto, Radio Fanmi Lavalas New York

Ashley Smith, International Socialist Review

Mark Snyder, International Action Ties

Jeb Sprague, UCSB

Irwin Stotzky, University of Miami Law School

Lucie Tondreau, community activist

Eddy Toussaint “Tontongi”, Revi Tanbou

Harold Valentin, Oganizasyon Jen Salomon (OJESA)

Dave Welsh, San Francisco Labor Council

Cornel West, Princeton University

Burt Wides, former counsel to Haiti’s constitutional government; Special Counsel to President Carter for oversight of all U.S. Intelligence Agencies

Cécile Winter, Collectif politique sida en Afrique

Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana

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