As of Feb. 16, 2011, nine U.K. MPs have endorsed a notice of motion congratulating the government of Haiti for issuing a passport to its exiled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Early Day Motion #1378, entitled "Jean-Bertrand Aristide" states:
"That this House welcomes the announcement by the government of Haiti that former President Aristide will be issued with a passport and thus able to return from exile in South Africa; deplores the manner in which he was removed from Haiti; and hopes his return will help lead to social justice and democracy for the people."
Early Day Motions are rarely debated in Britain. The significance of #1378 will be in how much support this statement gathers over the next session of the U.K. parliament.
Meanwhile, some members of the U.S. Congress have made more substantive moves to support Haiti. On Feb. 1, the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement calling for new elections in Haiti, urging the "the United States and the inter¬na¬tional com¬mu¬nity to uphold the ideals of fair¬ness and sup¬port a new Haiti elec¬tion process that is free and fair, respect¬ing the rights of the Hait¬ian people."
This call follows an Oct. 7, 2010 statement by 45 members of the U.S. Congress calling for the upcoming election on Nov. 28 to be cancelled. The members warned that electoral exercise would be "undemocratic and unconstitutional" given the exclusion from participation of the largest and most popular political party in Haiti, Fanmi Lavalas.
Not coincidentally, Fanmi Lavalas is the party headed by Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
In contrast to all this, no Canadian Members of Parliament have indicated support for the right of Aristide to return to his homeland, nor explicitly condemned the Haitian election for its exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas, nor called for new elections.
The closest thing to a condemnation was issued the day after the Nov. 28 election on NDP MP Paul Dewar's personal website: "[n]o longer should Haitians' democratic ambitions be dampened by an electoral process that limits participation and is open to abuse."
If helping Haitian democracy is a goal for the NDP, they must speak up now. Foreign interference in the Haitian electoral process continues. The election is moving to a second round run-off scheduled for March 20 with two candidates, Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly, who the Haitian government was strongly pressured to accept as the front-runners by the U.S. and other foreign powers in Haiti.
Haiti's daily Le Nouveliste wrote that the revised results, whereby Martelly replaces second place finisher Jude Celestin in the second round, constitute "the end of the illusion of sovereignty". The same paper has reported that half of Haiti's eight-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) did not approve the decision to allow Martelly into the run-off. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) remarks, in a Feb. 7 press release, that the CEP's "bylaws requires that the Council's deci¬sions be made by an ‘absolute major¬ity of its mem¬bers.' There¬fore, a valid deci¬sion regard¬ing the run-off would require five votes."
The press release continues, "[The] IJDH notes that the current run-off contro-versy is the result of trying to create a ‘good' result from the deeply flawed Nov. 28 elections in Haiti. IJDH supports the efforts of many Haitian civil society groups and political parties, joined by the Congressional Black Caucus and several U.S. human rights groups in calling for new, inclusive elections as the only practical solution to Haiti's elec¬tion crisis."
As Mario Joseph, Haiti's leading human rights lawyer, and a founding member of the IJDH, remarked to the Montreal L'Aut'journal in an interview on Jan. 25, by failing to demand the cancellation of the fraudulent vote and the holding of new rounds of fair, democratic and inclusive elections, Canadian members of Parliament of all parties have accepted an anti-democratic framework imposed on Haiti by governments in Washington, Paris, and Ottawa.
Stuart Hammond is a researcher and Psychology PhD student at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby and a member of Haiti Solidarity BC in Vancouver.