PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – The visit by Secretary of State John Kerry in Haiti Tuesday indicates real and serious problems in the country’s electoral process.
Even after meeting with the country’s Prime Minister in Washington D.C. to discuss elections, Kerry still had to travel to Haiti to meet with the president. With two weeks left before the vote, protests in the streets, denunciations in the press, the actions of Kerry himself signals the need for a transitional government
It is highly unusual for a high ranking U.S. official, like the top diplomat, to be so engaged in the elections of a foreign country. The White House National Security Council has said that “as a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country.”
In Kerry’s visit, he made worse, worse. He met with only members of the Martelly administration, a totalitarian regime that has made conditions not conducive for the holding of elections in 5 years. Snubbing even the most moderate of opponents in his visit, Kerry has only increased the brazenness of the Martelly administration and brought more doubt to the process.
The Secretary of State acknowledged that an overwhelming number of Haitians do not trust the Martelly regime and want a transitional government, with no political interests, to organize elections.
Kerry recognized that voter intimidation and violence was the mark of the August 9, 2015 first round of legislative elections, but left Haiti, after fully invoking himself and the full force of the Obama administration, not having addressed it.
In Haiti, these types of manners degrade the United States’ power of diplomacy and influence, seen by the fact that Haitians are still, and will still, protest for a transitional government.
Negative reactions to Kerry’s visit
Haitians do not trust President Martelly or his de facto government to organize elections after five years of not doing so by making conditions not conducive to a free, fair and inclusive process.
Presidential candidate, Aviol Fleurant, said that Kerry’s visit and speech, demanding Haitians to accept the results of August 9, 2015, will not suffice to appease the protests against those elections.
The Justice political party immediately released a press note after Kerry’s declarations and said that “the conditions are not met for holding good elections in the country.”
That party’s presidential candidate, Michel André, who removed himself for the process said that John Kerry knows nothing of the political reality of Haiti. He warned the nation of what it already knew, that “October 25 will be a day of violence that will be perpetrated by supporters of the team in power who are preparing electoral coup.”
Presidential candidate for the party Kontrapèpla, Chavannes Jean Baptiste, said that the US government supports the Martelly regime and its intention to commit a “hold-up” election. He said that the Provisional Electoral Council of Pierre Louis Opont has no credibility and says the election of October 25 will cause strong protests.
Before the arrival Tuesday of the Secretary of State in Haiti, Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California sent an open letter to Secretary Kerry and stressed the need for an investigation into the August 9, elections and asked the Secretary of State to make a statement in the sense that violence and intimidation have no place in the electoral process. The latter was easy enough to do and that is all that was done.
Echoing the concerns of different sectors of both Haitian and foreign actors, the U.S. Representative urged Kerry to request an investigation into the violence, fraud and acts of intimidation against voters and that individuals and parties responsible be punished, regardless of their political affiliation.
“I am deeply concerned about the 2015 elections in Haiti and the impact they will have on the future of Haiti if the Haitian people do not considered as credible, said Waters
The Republican Member of Florida, Mario Rubio, candidate for the presidency, also called Kerry to provide US support for elections “free, fair and inclusive” in Haiti. Rubio has pushed for a bill that requires credible elections for U.S. aid to continue to go to Haiti. Obama has so far allowed the bipartisan bill that passed both houses in 2014, to sit on his desk.
Several other legislators signed the letter addressed to the Secretary of State to tell him that it is essential that the October 25 and December 27 elections are consistent with international standards. With no real changes having taken place in the process, this will not be met.