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February 7th was an International Day in Solidarity with the People of Haiti. The day was part of a campaign against the US/UN Occupation by the popular movement in Haiti, leading up to February 15th, when the UN Security Council is due to renew its Haiti mandate.

In San Francisco, people gathered at 4:30pm for a rally at Powell and Market Street, followed by a march to the Brazilian Consulate. Brazil commands the UN military force in Haiti. imc_photo.gifPhotos | imc_audio.gifAudio
In San Jose, people gathered from 5pm to 6pm at the South end of Cesar Chavez Plaza.
Tue Dec 26 2006 (Updated 07/12/07) UN Attacks Cite Soleil
On December 22nd, 400 Brazilian-led UN occupation troops in armored vehicles carried out an assault on the people of Cite Soleil, laying siege to the impoverished community. Eyewitness reports said a wave of indiscriminate gunfire from heavy weapons began about 5 a.m. and continued for much of the day Friday. Initial press accounts reported at least 40 casualties, all civilians. UN troops from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia took part in the all-day siege, backed by Haitian police. According to community testimony, UN forces flew overhead in helicopters and fired down into houses while other troops attacked from the ground with Armored Personnel Carriers.
After more than two years in prison and a fifteen month hunger-strike, former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune was freed in order to seek medical treatment on Thursday, July 27th. Neptune is one of the most high profile political prisoners who have been detained by the U.S.-backed interim government in Haiti. He was jailed shortly after the 2004 coup that ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. The intermittent hunger strike has taken a heavy toll on the 59 year-old former Prime Minister's health.
Tue May 30 2006 (Updated 06/12/06) Haiti Updates
On June 9th 2006, Jacques Edouard Alexis was sworn in as Haiti's prime minister. Alexis served as René Garcia Préval's prime minister from March 26th 1999 to February 7th 2001.
On February 16th, Haiti’s interim government and election officials reached an agreement to declare Rene Preval the winner of the country’s presidential election. With 90% of ballots counted, it was claimed that Preval had been just shy of the 50% margin needed for a first-round election win, but under the agreement, some of the blank votes - representing 4% of the estimated 2.2 million ballots cast - were subtracted from the total number of votes counted, giving Preval the majority. 129 seats in parliament are also up for grab and it is those who control legislature that will approve Haiti's prime minister. So far the media have neglected to inform the public on the outcome of the parliamentary election. Some fear the parliamentary election was also tainted by fraud since the same burnt ballots with Preval's name on them would have contained votes for pro-Aristide parliamentary members whose votes are now lost.

Brian Concannon writes:
On February 7, Haitian voters went to the polls to elect a President for the fourth time since 1990. Through great patience and determination they overcame official disorganization, incompetence and discrimination, and for the fourth time since 1990 handed their chosen candidate a landslide victory. And for the fourth time Haitian elites, with support from the International Community, started immediately to undercut the victory, seeking at the negotiation table what they could not win at the voting booth.

...[Rene Preval] won the 50% of the vote necessary to avoid a runoff election against his nearest competitor. Although early official results and the unofficial tallies by the Preval campaign, international observers and journalists all showed Mr. Preval comfortably above the 50% bar, after 5 days of counting his official results crept 1.3% below it. Negotiations resulted in a deal that changes the way that the Electoral Council treats blank ballots, which, according to the Council's calculation, puts Mr. Preval back above 50%. ...The election deal gives a little something to everyone, and that's the problem. Elections are not supposed to make everyone happy; they are supposed to apportion political power according to majority vote, on the basis of set rules. In all likelihood, a correct tabulation of the votes would have given Mr. Preval a first round victory, as exit polls and unofficial tabulations had predicted. Although the negotiated agreement reaches the same result as a correct tabulation would have reached, it does so by changing the rules instead of correcting the violations of the rules. The deal provides leverage for those seeking to delegitimize Preval's presidency and block the progressive social and economic policies that he was elected to implement.

Read More

Préval is President but what about the vote-rigging charges? | US Propaganda in Haiti: NPR reporter Amelia Shaw is wearing two hats | Bring Aristide back to Haiti, enough is enough! | Max Mathurin and Jose Miguel Insulza contradict each other on charges of elections fraud
2/15/2006: Former President Rene Preval said on Tuesday he won last week's election outright and urged Haitian elections officials to hold off publishing final election results because of possible fraud. "We are sure of having won in the first round," Preval said in his first significant comments on the election results in the week since the vote more On Wednesday, vote monitors discovered piles and piles of burned and trashed ballots marked for Preval.

Executive Director of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) Jacques Bernard, an appointee of ‘interim’ Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, indicated Saturday evening that the percentage of votes for Presidential candidate Rene Préval in the February 7 presidential elections was actually lower than originally estimated. This was due to the addition of 72,000 blank ballots. A spokesman for the electoral council said blank votes had not been counted in past elections, but these ballots were added to vote totals used to calculate each candidate's tally, effectively lowering each candidate's percentage of the overall vote and dropping the vote for Préval to less than 50 percent. If this stands, there will be a runoff vote, presumably pitting Préval against elite-backed Leslie Manigat, who only received around 12 percent of the vote.

Electoral council member Pierre Richard Duchemin said he was being denied his rightful access to information about the tabulation process and called for an investigation. Pointing to "a certain level of manipulation," Duchemin told The Associated Press, "there is an effort to stop people from asking questions." Dr. Frantz Large, a Senate candidate for Lespwa, Préval’s party, observed: "The first objective of the provisional authority is to force René Préval to a 2nd round, and run a coalition of candidates against him. "The second objective is to push the popular masses who have a legitimate beef, into the streets, inciting them to vent blind rage onto the « bord de mer » (dockside) in Port-au-Prince which houses stores and offices of all kinds, small businesses, fine victims making up the country’s working middle class. This would certainly lead to creating hate and resentment against President Préval, and a desire to find refuge in stifling policies that border on fascism."

Further fanning the flames of discontent amongst hundreds of thousands who have been subjected to unrelenting repression involving rape, extrajudicial execution and illegal imprisonment of dissidents since the February 2004 U.S.-backed ouster of the democratically-elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the UN today again opened fire on demonstrators in Port-au-Prince. An anonymous UN official told a reporter that "several dozen" were injured.

Read More | Counting Some of the Votes in Haiti | Mass protests erupt over vote count | Haiti Democracy Project has U.S. Defense Dept Chief as an "election observer" | U.N. Troops Kill Haitian Democracy Demonstrators | Haiti's Poor Erupt in Protest | Préval supporters paralyze Haiti's capital, validity of elections in doubt | US troop deployment sparks protests in Dominican Republic
Tue Feb 7 2006 Haitian Elections
2/8/2006: Counting of ballots has started in Haiti after elections marked by stampedes that left four dead ended. Voters were frustrated by voting stations opening late and other major problems, leading to crowds storming polling stations and voting continuing late into the night. Mr Préval is the absolute favourite to win the battle for the presidency. He's already served in that office and was once the protégé of another - now exiled - former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Although he's since distanced himself from Aristide, Mr Préval enjoys great popularity among exactly the same poor sections of Haiti's population. Election results are not expected to be announced for at least several days.

CARICOM leaders are slated to discuss the Haitian return to their bloc, which has refused to recognize the interim government of Gerard Latortue following the ouster of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

Freed Haitian Priest Gerard Jean Juste on His Imprisonment and the Haitian Elections | Haitians Await Results of Election After Chaotic Voting Conditions | Haiti's elections - the poor want Préval | Poll delays leave Haitians sweating in landmark vote | Keeping Preval-supporters away from the polls | Voting under the gun | HIP predicts Preval winner in Haiti with 63% of the vote | Human Rights Report On Haitian Elections

2/7/2006: Elections are taking place in Haiti. Polls opened at 0600 (1100 GMT) and are scheduled to close at 1600 (2100 GMT). Official results are expected on Friday.

Since a CID-Gallup poll taken in Haiti last December showed Rene Preval leading in the upcoming elections with 37%, the political forces that banded together to oust Aristide in Feb. 2004 have been organizing to contest the expected results. Preval's closest rival, Charles Henry Baker, is a wealthy sweatshop owner and a co-founder of the Group 184, a so-called civil society organization that helped to overthrow Aristide and was heavily funded by the United States, France and Canada through an intriguing web of foreign non-governmental organizations (NGO's). More
Brian Concannon writes:
February 7 will close the book on other questions that will never be answered. We will never know how much a third consecutive peaceful and punctual transfer of power from an elected President to an elected successor would have consolidated Haiti’s fragile democracy. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide made the first such transfer in Haiti’s history in 1996, President Rene Preval the second one in 2001. The Constitution sets the third transfer for this February 7, but on that day the current elected President, President Aristide, will be in exile in South Africa, thousands of miles away, and his successor will not have been picked. We will never know how all the prominent politicians confined unjustly to jail, like former Senate President and Prime Minister Yvon Neptune- one of the top vote getters in the May 2000 legislative elections- would have done had they run in the elections. We will never know how many votes the Lavalas party- which has won every election since the end of the Duvalier regime in 1986, by a landslide- would have won this time. Lavalas announced eighteen months ago that it would participate in elections when the repression against it stopped, but the interim government has not been willing to make that concession.
But the biggest question of all will not be answered on February 7 or in Haiti at all: whether the international community will accept the Haitian voters’ choice this time. Haiti’s last elections, in November 2000, were held in relative security, with broad public participation and a clear popular choice. But the U.S., France, Canada and other countries disagreed with that choice, so they undermined the elected government with three years of political and economic coercion, and eventually bundled the President onto a U.S. plane headed for the Central African Republic. More

Haiti: Dark storm brewing over elections | Violent start to Haiti elections | Haitians begin voting in key poll | Haiti Support Group press release | Petition Filed Against US as Haiti Approaches Elections | Haiti poll may pave way for Aristide's return

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