Thursday, February 23, 2006
Aristide to Return to Haiti?
Préval was named President after authorities, keen on avoiding further violence and bloodshed, agreed on February 16 to redistribute more than 80,000 blank votes (reportedly just over 4% of the total tally) on a pro-rata basis between the candidates, giving Préval 51.2 percent of the votes, rather than the 49.8 percent he had when the blank ballots were included in the total. A result less than 50 percent would have forced a runoff with second-place candidate Leslie Manigat. Manigat called the agreement "the imposition of a victor" and claimed it was "a reward for violence".
Préval had claimed that fraud prevented him from winning on the first round and called for an investigation. A Haitian television station had reported the discovery of thousands of ballots which were thrown out at a garbage dump near Cite Soleil. Some of them were cast in favor of Préval, and UN officials expressed concern because the bags were only supposed to include blank and annulled votes.
With the election finally resolved, the prospect of a return of Aristide brought mixed responses. Jonathan Clayton, writing for the Times of Britain, cited analysts as saying Aristide “would be deeply destabilizing and polarizing, and would destroy Mr. Préval’s hopes of reaching out to Haiti’s business elite — who orchestrated the ousting of the former President — the masses and the international community.” In an interview with that reporter, Aristide denied he had aspirations of returning to power: “I always knew that when I was elected my mandate would come to an end. My mandate ended and that is that.”
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Protests follow Haitian Elections
René Garcia Préval, the clear winner with about 90 percent of the votes counted, returned to the capital for the first time since the election. His supporters claimed that electoral officials were tampering with results to prevent him from getting the majority he needs to avoid a runoff. Préval had obtained 48.7 percent of the vote, according to the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Haiti’s Electoral Council). His closest opponent, former president Leslie Manigat, had garnered 11.8 percent. According to press reports, about 125,000 of the 2.2 million ballots cast have been declared invalid because of irregularities, raising suspicion among Préval supporters that polling officials were rigging the election. Another 4 percent of the ballots were reportedly blank but were still added into the total, making it more difficult for Préval to obtain the 50 percent plus one vote needed. The Director-General of the Electoral Council, denied accusations that the council voided many votes for Preval.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Preval headed for a Runoff in Haiti?
Former World Bank official Marc Louis Bazin, who is running under the political party Union pour Haïti, an alliance between the Mouvement pour l’Instauration de la Démocratie en Haïti and the Fanmi Lavalas party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has claimed that the State Electoral Council is manipulating the results to force a run-off. International observers have reported some irregularities at polling stations but have not suggested the results were tainted by fraud.
René Garcia Préval was born on January 17, 1943 in Port-au-Prince, one of four children. He holds a degree in agronomy from the College of Gembloux in Belgium and has a background in both engineering and geothermics. He was an ally of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and a leader of the Fanmi Lavalas party but has since distanced himself from that party, choosing instead to run on the ticket of the Lespwa party which is the Haitian creole form of the French “L'Espoir”, meaning “Hope.” He was inaugurated President of the Republic of Haiti in 1996, making him the second democratically elected head of state in the history of the country. Prior to that, Préval directed the Fonds d'assistance èconomique et sociale (FAES) in 1995.
Préval served as Prime Minister in the administration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from February 1991 until the military coup of 29 September forced him to eventually flee and join the exiled Constitutional Government in the United States from 1992-94. Préval retained the Premier's portfolio as well as those of Interior and Defense until August 1993 when he was retained by President Aristide as chief adviser.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
St. Kitts-Nevis economy rebounds according to IMF
Following the closure of the state owned sugar company after the July 2005 harvest, IMF officials expect fiscal balances and growth prospects to strengthen over the medium term. According to the report: “Burdened by high costs, the sugar industry had become a major contributor to the fiscal deficit, with annual losses on the order of 4 percent of GDP, and accumulated debt of about 30 percent of GDP. The situation was only set to worsen with the impending loss of preferential access to EU markets.”
St. Kitts Nevis was recently singled out in Finance and Development along with five other countries (three of which are also in the Caribbean basin) as particularly at risk from the loss of such trade preferences in general.