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Senator Lugar Calls for Haitian Elections, but Challenges are Significant

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Message Stanley Lucas

On June 10, Senator Lugar released a report to the Members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations entitled, "Haiti: No Leadership No Elections" (for a copy of the report, see: http://lugar.senate.gov/issues/foreign/lac/haiti/pdf/report.pdf ). The report, prepared by his key staffers after a visit to Haiti, calls for President Preval to immediately initiate procedures to move forward with November 28, 2010 elections.


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While we can all agree that Haiti has a leadership crisis and that a democratically elected leader must emerge, the report misses or dismisses several hurdles that will undermine the credibility of the elections and, more importantly, will pose a serious threat to the safety of the Haitian people. The report focuses largely on procedural aspects, such as issuing electoral registration cards and submission of the Presidential request so the organization work can commence and international aid money can begin to flow in. But the report, unfortunately, complete misses the security aspect of elections and does not factor in the historical precedent for discredited elections to throw the country into complete chaos. The report concludes that the leadership vacuum is more detrimental than the challenges stemming from less than perfect elections. They cite Afghanistan and Iraq as prime examples of this theory.

HURDLES TO NOVEMBER ELECTIONS


1. Electoral Infrastructure Cannot Be Rebuilt by November

The earthquake affected 3 million people, and five months later 2.1 million of them are still living in makeshifts camps 1,350 in total without potable water, healthcare, food, or basic services. Approximately, 90,000 citizens left Port-au-Prince to the Central Plateau; 160,000 went to the Artibonite Department; and, 60,000 went to the Grande Anse. Other Departments have also absorbed people, but there are no official or unofficial numbers yet. These citizens are putting pressure on the public infrastructure of the Departments that they are using as temporary residencies. The public schools and other public facilities have essentially turned into public housing. And finally, of the 140 municipalities in Haiti, the earthquake directly affected 80 and indirectly 40.

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Stanley Lucas is a specialist in political development projects. He has worked as a Senior Program Officer in Afghanistan and the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Lucas is currently the Executive Director for for the Washington Democracy (more...)
 
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