Haiti is once again descending into chaos this morning following the unexpected results from last week presidential election. Preliminary results which were released late last night confirmed former first lady Mirlande Manigat and Preval protégé Jude Celestin to be the front runners. Michel “Sewt Micky” Martelly (left in the picture), highly anticipated to square off with Manigat, was eliminated from the race, triggering a nationwide protest that many believe may very well do away with the Preval regime. No one predicted this shocking outcome. Celestin, who represented the INITE party—a Preval grouping designed to create a façade for his hold on power—was widely expected to lose and lose big.
As Preval’s hand-picked man, Celestin was vehemently despised in the eyes of a population left to rot in poverty after the apocalyptic earthquake of last January that left more than a million Haitians homeless and about half million buried alive under the rubble. Preval never apologized for his total disregard toward the everlasting suffering. Nor did he ever come up with a plan to protect the country from future calamities. To the contrary, he ridiculed the lacerating cry of the desperate people. “I’m hungry too, and I have no place to live too,” he would say when asking about his recovery plan.
Adding to the deep-seated repudiation of the Preval’s regime is the choice of Jude Celestin—the head of the State’s construction company that carted bodies of earthquake victims like trash and garbage being collected to be dumped in shallow mass-graves in broad daylight in Titanyen, a notorious land field near downtown Port-au-Prince.
Preval, an arriviste politician, who made his fortune off the masses suffering, could not care less about his country’s rapid descent into the basket cases of nations. As a clear and shameless jusqu’auboutiste bent on clinging on to power even as the country is crumbling around him, Preval appears ready to play his last card through Celestin, perhaps the only candidate who could guarantee that his master would not go to prison for crimes of high treason against a defenseless population.
Haitians: left to be manipulated
At first, Preval succeeded into fending off what is currently happening now. On election night, soon after the polls closed, a coalition of 12 candidates, including Manigat and Micky, firmly declared the process “null and void,” citing gross irregularities or even frauds at several poll stations throughout the Western Province. But as classic opportunists, Manigat and Micky could not resist when their names were being circulated shortly thereafter to be the new front runners. They quickly withdrew their support for the boycott and rejoined the process. That was a shrewd moved by Preval, which succeeded in starving off discontents. Now, Micky may find it hard to reject the same thing he embraced just 2 weeks ago. However, Micky stands a chance to be the next president of Haiti.
Sweet Micky is benefiting greatly from Preval’s misdeeds. He now appears to be the ultimate victim, framed to be the new circumstantial hero. The people see Micky as their best chance to get at Preval. This is another sad chapter in Haiti’s history. The parading of these reactionary politicians now being coated as heroes is understandably hard to swallow, forcing the historic weakness of the Haitian left to be once again revisited. The trajectory of Preval and Aristide has dealt a colossal blow to this frame of thought, and maybe Anténor Firmin was right when he predicted the demise of the country unless responsible and democratic governance have come to play. La gauche haitienne has always had the historic mission to restore Haiti’s shattered prestige. But when? And How? This is just another dossier.
In a desperate move to reassert his dwindling authority, Preval is urging the candidates to rein in their supporters. According to Associated Press, he went on Radio Nationale and delivered a live radio address on Wednesday. He defended the election results while taking aims at the U.S. Embassy for its criticism of the election and dismissed suggestions that fraud invalidated the balloting. He now sees the need to address the nation, for his personal and strategic interest is at stake. But he took a deafly approach back in January as thousands were being left to die beneath the rubble.
His cry for calm, though, is also being lost in the gut wrenching echo of rage and desperation of an endangered people. The headquarters of his INITE party was set ablaze this morning as thousands of protesters took to the streets, erecting barricades and setting fires. Associated Press also reported flames leaping from the roof of the Unity party headquarters. CSMS Magazine spoke to its correspondent on the ground, Yves Duchet, who confirmed that security guards shot demonstrators as they assaulted the building near the city center, but it was unclear whether anyone died. Several fire trucks were trying to control the blaze — an unusual scene in a city with few reliable public services. Protests have also broken out in Les Cayes, Cap-Haitien and other cities.
The official preliminary results claimed Mirlande Manigat to be the biggest vote getter, winning 31.4 percent of the vote against Celestin 22.5 and Sweet Micky 21.8 percent — trailing Celestin by about 6,800 votes, roughly by less than 1 percent.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the problems were worse than originally reported. Also, the U.N. peacekeepers and the joint Organization of American States-Caribbean Community observer mission acknowledged there were problems, but they did not amount to an invalidation of the election. “Remember that the results are only preliminary results. For all candidates who believe there were irregularities or fraud, there are recourses provided by the electoral law,” said Colin Granderson, chief observer with the OAS-Caricom mission, appealing for patience.
By all account, turnout was reportedly low. Only one million out of the 4.7 million registered voters casted their ballots. Most people simply shunned the entire masquerade. The quest for survival leaves them no time to go after sneaky politicians, totally conformists and only interested in using the masses as stepped stones to reach the height of their golden means.