Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) is organizing elections in 60 days that exclude a large swath of political parties, including Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti's largest party. The planned November 28 elections will be unfair and illegal. They will undermine Haiti's democratic progress and imperil U.S. investments in Haiti's reconstruction. Instead of insisting on democratic elections, the U.S. government is providing generous political and financial support. Rep. Maxine Waters is trying to hold the U.S. government to our democratic principles, please ask your Representative to help her, and Haiti, out.
Last November, the CEP excluded 14 parties from elections for the House of Deputies and 1/3 of the Senate, at the time scheduled for February 2010. Those elections were postponed to November, and the CEP has refused to revisit the exclusion. This month, the CEP excluded 15 candidates from the Presidential elections also scheduled for November. The CEP has never issued a comprehensive explanation for these exclusions. Although some exclusions may have legal justifications, the reasons given for many exclusions, including the Fanmi Lavalas exclusion, are without merit under Haitian and international law (for more details see our legal memo, or this Op-Ed).
The November 28 elections are essential to Haiti's democratic development and recovery from the earthquake. The next government will need to make hard decisions about reconstruction priorities that will affect the country for decades, and will need to ask its citizens to make even more sacrifices. An illegitimate, unpopular government will not be able to do either task, and could lead Haiti into years of civil unrest that will make reconstruction impossible.
Haitians are fighting the unfair elections in the streets, in the press, and at political meetings. Political organizations from across the spectrum -- many of whom have agreed on little else for decades - have condemned the CEP's exclusions. The dangers posed by the election's flaws have been documented in the international press, a letter from dozens of U.S. civil society organizations, and a report by Sen. Richard Lugar. Despite these dangers, the UN, the OAS and the U.S. government continue to praise the elections, and promise the financial support necessary for the electoral charade to succeed.
Rep. Maxine Waters, a principled and persistent supporter of democracy in Haiti, tried to avert the electoral disaster this week by asking her colleagues to join her in a letter urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to announce that the U.S. will not support unfair elections. Please help her by calling TODAY or TOMORROW to urge your Representative to join her.
Help Rep. Waters fight for democracy in Haiti by writing TODAY or TOMORROW to urge your Representative to sign the letter to Secretary Clinton. The letter is open for signature this week only, because of the impending Congressional recess.