WASHINGTON - Haiti's democracy and national sovereignty were severely undermined, Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), said, reacting to news that Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had given in to external pressure and announced that government-backed candidate Jude Celestin will not proceed to the second round of elections.
"What a disgrace this is to the United States government: the richest country in the world has forced one of the poorest to change the results of its presidential election, literally under the threat of starvation," Weisbrot said. "Now two right-wing candidates, who received votes from around 6.4 and 4.5 percent of registered voters, respectively, will compete for the presidency, in another farcical 'election.'
"This is a big setback for democracy in Haiti. Far from fixing the problems with the first elections, this is simply an attempt to impose an illegitimate government on Haiti, and it will backfire," Weisbrot said.
"Washington also continues to try to keep former President Aristide, the country's first democratically elected president, out of the country. This is equally inexcusable and will also fail," Weisbrot also stated.
Foreign governments and international institutions, led by the Obama Administration, have put enormous pressure on the CEP to follow the recommendations of a flawed Organization of American States (OAS) "Expert" Mission report, that singer Michel Martelly should move to the runoff instead of Celestin. Despite the historically unprecedented situation in Egypt and the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an unplanned trip to Haiti over the weekend to personally pressure the Haitian government to pull Celestin from the runoff.
CEPR's statistical analysis of the OAS Mission's methodology and conclusions, however, determined the report to be deeply flawed, "indefensible," and "inconclusive", and the Center noted that six out of seven of the Mission's "experts" were from the U.S., France, and Canada – governments that led the overthrow of Haiti's first democratically elected president from 2000-2004. CEPR's findings on the OAS report have been reiterated in the past weeks by the Congressional Black Caucus, 12 out of 19 of the first-round presidential candidates, and the Haitian government, among others.
CEPR performed its own count of the 11,181 tally sheets from the election's first round, and found that "Based on the numbers of irregularities, it is impossible to determine who should advance to a second round. If there is a second round, it will be based on arbitrary assumptions and/or exclusions." The Center concluded that only new elections – including all legitimate political parties – could ensure the will of the Haitian electorate is validated.