Not so surprisingly, at least to me, Haiti’s recent mid-term Senatorial elections add up to the already fragile situation of this Caribbean nation of nine million souls. Now that the votes are being tabulated under the radar of a CEP that has become synonym of incompetence or unpatriotic, I am afraid that the worst is yet to come. To say the least, our system of governance has collapsed as a whole; from the inability of the president to govern to the lack of judgment of the body of the Electoral Council.
Over and over, it has been proven that Haitian voters do know when to come out to vote. When you have a president who lacks the wisdom to govern, a CEP which is out for revenge, a starving people with a wait and see attitude, having credible elections would be wishful thinking. What happened on Sunday April 19 is nothing than voter fatigue, pure and simple. Yes there was some boycotting of the elections by the Fanmi Lavalas party, but that alone could not have forced a population to stay home and not participate.
Ironically, on the eve of the elections, it was as if an SOS was launched warning the population of a hurricane that was about to hit Haiti in 24 hours. People were out shopping for food, batteries, flash lights and, in some cases, the less fortunate would be buying candles as they did not know how long they would stay in house arrest.
A ghost town, that’s how I would describe Port-au-Prince on Sunday April 19t as I was getting ready to catch my flight to JFK. I saw travelers coming to the airport by dragging their luggage from as far as the eye can see since there was no public transportation. Yes indeed, traffic was a breeze in Port-au-Prince for a rare moment. The vicinity of the airport was empty and even the food vendors were out of sight. How can you have elections when voters are afraid to step out of their doors? Boy, I can’t wait to see who would be the first audacious to validate this fiasco.
There is always a belief that our “leaders” are either incapable or unwilling to free Haiti of its current state. Having been through so much political nightmares in recent years, there are absolutely no viable reasons why the CEP would put Haiti on the brink of another political controversy by dismissing a political party or excluding the people from exercising their rights to choose a leader of their choice.
It is so irrational to have dismissed Fanmi Lavalas from the mid-term elections. Dismissing Fanmi Lavalas was an invitation to confrontation. However, what the CEP has failed to notice is that they are victims of their own foolishness. If there is anything good that comes out of these elections by dismissing Fanmi Lavalas, it is that the CEP’s action has revitalized the idea that Haiti is not ready to move on without the participation of Jean Bertrand Aristide. It is a political fact that may not sits well with a lot of us, but the fact remains that Fanmi Lavalas is both part of the problem and the solution of Haiti’s political future. Dismissing Fanmi Lavalas was also an attempt to destabilize the country and, if anybody does not understand that to be a fact, s/he does not understand Haitian politics.
It is also a lack of leadership on the part of the government and, for that matter, the president himself. Our president is too easy going. He should have stepped up and demand that Fanmi Lavalas be included in the elections and that would have put aside any controversies that would eventually arise. Unlike Préval, I would like to believe that the right to vote is not only a civic duty but an obligation, especially in a young democracy such as ours. This is another example of the kind of mishaps we have in our political system.
Going forward, we need to overhaul the CEP and, if people have to be jailed, so be it since they were so irresponsible in doing the work of the people for the people. In American we say that the buck stop with the president.
Edrys Erisnor is a political scientist