Uncertain times: anticipation of election results, Hilary Clinton arrives and WikiLeaks unearths cables concerning Haiti.
On Friday, the Conseil Électoral provisoire (Provisional Electoral Council – CEP) announced that the results of the first round of presidential voting will be revealed on 2 February 2011, five days before the current president René Préval’s term comes to an end.
The second round run-off between the top two candidates will follow with the final result expected on 16 April 2011.
Speculation concerning the makeup of the second round of voting has been rife. The Inité (Unity) party currently in power has come under immense pressure to withdraw their candidate, Jude Celestin.
In a press conference on Wednesday, four members of the party expressed their position in favour of their candidate’s withdrawal due to ‘pressure from the international community as well as violence against members of Inité and their possessions, following the preliminary results of the first round of presidential elections which placed M. Celestin in second place behind Mirlande Manigat’.
However, it was made clear by the CEP on Friday that it was too late for Celestin to withdraw his candidacy. The spokesperson for the CEP, Richardson Dumesle, invoked Haitian electoral law, stating that no presidential candidate may withdraw after the voting process has begun.
This may be of little importance if the results next week confirm the widespread suspicions that the popular Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly will dislodge Celestin from his second round place beside Manigat.
This result would reverse what l’Organisation des États américains (Organisation of American States – OAS) concluded as fraudulent voting procedures in favour of Celestin and Inité in their investigation two weeks ago.
US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, visited Haiti on 30 January 2011. US ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merton, addressed the press on Friday, outlining several reasons for Ms Clinton’s visit: to see the progress made with the post-earthquake reconstruction; witness the battle against cholera and to talk personally to Celestin, Manigat and Martelly.
Merton also underlined that the USA had no part in last week’s unexpected return of exiled dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, who has now had his passport confiscated and is awaiting trial.
However, according to confidential US cables from 2005 and 2006 revealed this week by WikiLeaks, the US Government has been involved in the matter of another exiled Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The cables, published in The Guardian, stressed ‘…continued US G[overnment] insistence that all efforts must be made to keep Aristide from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process…’.
They also reveal the concerns of then US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, about the stability of the UN mission in Haiti (Minustah) and the questionable circumstances surrounding the death at that time of Brazilian general, Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar, then head of Minustah.
In other news, alongside the cholera epidemic which has taken over 4,000 lives to date, more deaths have been reported.
According to Marie-Yolène Gilles of the Réseau de défense des droits des haïtiens (Network for the protection of Haitian Rights – RNDDH), 77 people have been shot dead so far in January 2011.
Ms Gilles said that most of the killings were linked to frustrated groups, putting pressure on the police and judicial system.