and it has to do with the fact that in the two previous elections (February and June 2009), the Haitian electoral commission, disallowed candidates from the largest party in Haiti, Lavalas, from appearing on the ballot. Lavalas is the party started by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and is supported by the overwhelming majority of Haiti’s poor. Keeping Lavalas candidates off the ballot is the only way to prevent Lavalas candidates from winning elections. Lavalas voters boycotted last year’s elections and, as any poll worker can testify, waiting for people to show up to vote was like watching paint dry. For more info, see Kevin Pina’s article, Boycott Shuts Down Haiti Elections.
Clinton says elections key to Haiti stability
Tue Mar 9, 2010 1:31pm EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged quake-stricken Haiti on Tuesday to hold legislative elections “as soon as appropriate,” saying new polls were key to the stability and legitimacy of the Haitian government.
Clinton, speaking to reporters after meeting with Haitian President Rene Preval, said rescheduling elections delayed by the January 12 earthquake should be a top priority “to ensure the stability and legitimacy of the Haitian government.”
“I assured President Preval that the United States would work with the international community to hold elections as soon as appropriate,” Clinton said.
Preval has said he would not seek to extend his term in office beyond its scheduled conclusion on February 11, 2011, and said on Tuesday he was confident that legislative elections — originally scheduled for February 28 — could be organized in time to ensure an orderly transition.
“What we must absolutely avoid is that we have a temporary provisional government that does not enjoy legitimacy,” Preval said during his appearance with Clinton.
After the news conference, Preval told reporters that there was no time to lose — although he gave no dates for when the elections might be held.
“Before I depart we must have a parliament and a new president. We have almost a year to do that,” Preval told reporters after the news conference.
“If in a year we have a provisional government, that would be a catastrophe. That government would have no legitimacy, there wouldn’t be a parliament … it would really be a return to 2004.”
Presidential elections had been set for November, but it is unclear whether that will happen on schedule.
PREVIOUS POWER VACUUMS
Haiti was left without a government after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced into exile during a bloody rebellion in February 2004. Most parliamentary terms had expired in January 2004, leaving it powerless to appoint an interim president.
BILLIONS IN RELIEF AID
Organizing new elections would be a major task, but is crucial to put in place a new parliament that will be legally empowered to spend the billions of dollars in relief aid flowing in.
The offices of the Electoral Council collapsed in the January 12 earthquake, members of the U.N. mission working with the commission were killed and election materials were buried.
Many of Haiti’s government offices were also severely damaged in the earthquake, further slowing recovery efforts.
Ninety-eight of the 99 seats in the legislature’s Chamber of Deputies were to be at stake in the February election, along with one-third of the 30-member Senate. The vote for the remaining lower house seat had been set for a later date.
Clinton said the international community was gearing up for a donors conference scheduled for March 31 and that Preval’s visit to Washington would help to coordinate priorities.
“We are listening very carefully to President Preval and the voices of the Haitian people as to what our next steps should be,” she said.
She said that the United States had already plowed almost $700 million into Haitian reconstruction efforts, but that much more needed to be done on everything from temporary housing to provisioning farmers with seed and fertilizer for the growing season.
She said Washington would also seek to persuade more countries to grant trade benefits to Haiti, while a key U.S. senator on Tuesday supported extending U.S. trade preferences to the country, the poorest in the western hemisphere.