The AP reported late last night that President Preval had rejected many of the recommendations outlined in Senator Lugar's report for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which we wrote about yesterday. While Preval did formally set a date for elections, a key recommendation of the report, he refused to work with international partners to reform the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) or to do more to ensure a fully inclusive electoral process. The Miami Herald and Reuters also have the story. As we wrote yesterday, and a number of times previously, Haiti's largest party, Fanmi Lavalas was excluded from 2009 elections and also from the planned February elections. Preval, however, defended the action, the AP writes:
He also defended the prohibition on the exiled Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party in last year's elections, a ban that came after rival factions of the party submitted competing lists of candidates.

"International donors need to look for an accord with the CEP and the political parties and the factions of Fanmi Lavalas," Preval said. "We are giving (the parties) the support that they need, and the factions need to figure it out (for themselves)."
It is worth noting that even before the earthquake, there was widespread anger with the CEP's decision to exclude Fanmi Lavalas and other parties from the electoral process. In 2009, when elections were held without Fanmi Lavalas, the CEP reported turnout of just 11%, while other independent observers put the number even lower. Although Preval is correct that elections will be key for maintaining political stability, without fair and fully inclusive elections there is a considerable risk that whoever the winner is will emerge with very little legitimacy.

For much more on the electoral process the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti released an 8 page report yesterday that sheds light on these important issues. The report calls for "fair, inclusive and constitutional elections" in Haiti.

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