Haitian diaspora groups call for election common ground

As political infighting and claims of voter fraud continue to plague Haiti’s presidential elections, several Haitian-American groups have joined in a united call to resolve “continuing impasse and its impact on the economy and the legitimacy of any government that might be elected.”

“Leaders in the Diaspora stand ready to come to Haiti to assist in reaching out a political solution out of this crisis,” said the coalition in a public statement. “As Haitians, what unites us is the love for our country and the idea that Haiti can again become the pearl of the Caribbean.”

The coalition of Diaspora organizations includes the locally-based Haitian American Chamber of Commerce (HACCOF), as well as Haiti Renewal Alliance (HRA), the National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals (NAAHP), Konbit for Haiti, Congress to Fortify Haiti and the National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians.

Of primary concern for the group is confirming the legitimacy – as quickly and thoroughly as possible – of the recent presidential elections, as claims of ballot tampering, procedural fails, and clashes between parties have let to recent violence protests and fights between citizens and police forces. General mistrust and accusation of political biased directed towards the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has also added to the atmosphere of uncertainty regarding the elections.

“In light of the doubts that have been expressed by a number of organizations, civic and political leaders regarding possible fraud, [a] counting of all the ballots (in the presence of independent observers) should be done, even if the date of the second round has to be postponed, as long as the elected president can take power by February 7.”

The group also called for all parties “to work together with the aim of respecting the current constitution in place and avoid a transition government.” They also urged the candidate who will be voted into office “to work toward healing any rift by setting up a commission or assembly across party lines to reform the election process so that this type of crisis can be avoided in the future.”

Ultimately, according to HACCOF Vice President Djenane St. Fleur, the coalition is also calling for a deeper, fundamental change in Haiti’s political culture, from greater electoral participation among voters, to a more streamlined election process.

“I would say that we hope the next elections, we do not have as many candidates,” says St. Fleuer, speaking to the National Weekly. “And that Haitian voters realize that voting is a right. The voter turn-out should have been much hire. Out of over 10 million people, only 1 million voted. And voters should not only focus on the presidential elections, but also on the parliament process as well. Voting for parliament members is important, as they are the individuals who are both shaping new laws and implementing them.”

So far, all requests to investigate the election results have been denied by both local election authorities and many international watchdogs, including U.S. Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten, who is directing the U.S.’s policy towards the election results. The presidential election run-off is still scheduled for December 27.

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