Haitian President Rene Preval signed a decree on Tuesday setting November 28, 2010 as the election date, the AP reports. According to AFP, not only will a new president be elected, but the entire Chamber of Deputies and one third of the senate are also up for grabs. Serious issues, however, have yet to be resolved. As we have noted numerous times before, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) excluded 15 political parties from participating in the legislative elections planned for February. Among the parties excluded was Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular party. There has been no indication if the exclusion will hold for the November elections.
There are also constitutional issues concerning the CEP. The Haitian Constitution calls for a Permanent Electoral Council, however the current Provisional council’s members were appointed by Preval during his term in office. The parties that had been excluded were predominantly opponents of Preval’s INITE coalition, raising concern over the independence of the CEP. Al-Jazeera, in their coverage of the election decree, note that Preval “did not address opponents’ calls for the council itself to be replaced before a vote is held.”
Although the United States, United Nations and OAS have all pledged support for elections, there have been no statements from these actors about the exclusion of political parties from the electoral process. However in a report for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, ranking Republican Richard Lugar did raise the issue. The report, titled “HAITI: NO LEADERSHIP—NO ELECTIONS“, outlines the feasibility of undertaking elections and recommendations for the process. The report notes that:
Calls for President Pre´val to exercise his executive powers and reform the CEP have been ongoing since controversial decisions made by the CEP to ban candidates representing Fanmi Lavalas (FL) from participating in the senatorial elections of 2009.
And recommends that:
The international donor community to seek an agreement with the CEP and all political parties, including the factions of Famni Lavalas, to ensure that the parties meet the CEP’s legal requirements and are not excluded from the elections because of perceived technicalities.
The international donor community, and Haitian government should heed this recommendation and ensure that whenever elections do take place, they be fully inclusive.