Haitians Protest Election, And So Do I
Anxiety set in for many people in Haiti long before Dec. 7, when the country's electoral board announced which two presidential candidates would likely participate in a January run-off election.
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Apprehension began on Election Day, Nov. 28, as voting fraud was evident. Many election centers closed prematurely because of unrest, registered voters were often unable to find their names on electoral rolls, and in some cases, ballots were stolen and burned amid disruption and violence. Thus, 12 of the 18 presidential candidates called for the election to be annulled even before polls closed.
This week, immediately after election results were announced, protests ensued throughout the country. Reports from international media began describing and showing the situation, often focusing on violent protests rather than the fraudulent election results.
But the protests are only an expression of the Haitian people who feel their voice has been stolen, along with an election. And so I protest too. Our U.S. government -- which gave $14 million in election support -- must assist in reviewing the fraud and pressure the Haitian government to release legitimate final election results.
Haiti's electoral council has since invited an audit of the vote tally sheets. But according to the NY Times, "The three candidates, each of whom had questioned the results, were not quick to embrace the invitation. Michel Martelly, a singer whose partisans have dominated the street protests, said through a spokesman that he did not want to participate in an audit or file a legal challenge unless the election board's leaders stepped down. 'You don't report a theft to the thief,' said the spokesman, Damien Merlo."
I planned to share Haitians' voices during a week-long trip starting Dec. 11, but the trip was postponed due to the Port-au-Prince airport closing and turbulence in the streets. For now, here are words from two people I anticipate meeting in my rescheduled trip in early February.
On Dec. 9, Alexis Erkert Depp, Mennonite Central Committee's advocacy coordinator in Haiti, wrote:
Not only do U.N. troops continue to rain teargas and rubber bullets on protesters