Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Haiti's Charred Vote

The interim (read: military) government in Haiti has just barred the publication of the vote result, citing an "inquiry" into obvious irregularities in front runner Rene Preval's results. Preval has already claimed "massive fraud" in the results and it would be hard to disagree, considering the bizarre arithmetic that seemed to prevail in the tabulation.

Reports have been coming in that hundreds, thousands, of ballots were discovered burnt and tossed into dumpsters in Port-au-Prince (hmm, doesn't that sound familiar?) The ballots appeared to have been marked for Preval. Counterveiling speculation is being spit out by a UN spokesman, who offers up the theory that the ballots were dumped so as to render an appearance of fraud. The vote tabulation itself had already demonstrated that something strange had gone on but here steps in the trusty UN, at the ready with a classic "blame the victim" tactic.

I can't begin to imagine what the interim government thinks it is going to accomplish with all these shenanigans. Preval is clearly the preferred candidate, and even if a run-off happens, he will most certainly win that. His next closest rival is Manigat, who received 12% of the popular vote. The Bush administration's likely favoured candidate and Group of 184 member, Charles Baker, came in around 8%; he won't even be in the run-off. All it seems to be doing is pissing off Haitians who, at this point, appear to be utterly fed-up with the anti-democratic pall of American meddling that has plagued their country for decades.

Preval's calls for calm protest and non-violence in the wake of the obviously cooked results seemed to have its effect. I suspect that Preval can see the writing on the wall should outrage persist and violent rioting ensue: martial law. And then guess what? No elections. At all. Rioting is perhaps just what the interim government wants because there really is no other way they will maintain power.


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