Thursday, February 23, 2006


Aristide to Return to Haiti?

Following the election of René Garcia Préval to the Presidency of Haiti, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide vowed that he would return to his country. Préval had served as Aristide’s Prime Minister from February 13 to October 11, 1991, and is considered a protégé of the former President.

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.”

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Protests follow Haitian Elections

On Monday, irate protesters demanding the final results of the February 7 general election in Haiti erected roadblocks across Port-au-Prince and occupied the Montana Hotel in Petionville in the hills east of the capital, where election officials had been announcing the results. Barricades made of old tires were set afire across the capital, sending smoke into the sky while protesters allowed only journalists and Red Cross vehicles to pass. One protester was killed but UN peacekeepers denied witness accounts that they were responsible.

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.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Preval headed for a Runoff in Haiti?

Despite previous reports that placed René Garcia Préval with a comfortable lead in the elections for Prime Minister of Haiti, it now appears he might be headed for a run-off. The 61 percent the candidate had garnered by Thursday (9 February), with just 15 percent of the vote counted, was subsequently reduced to 50.3 percent on Friday with roughly half the votes counted. Leslie Manigat, a former President, was in second place with 11.4 percent while Charles Baker held third with 8.3 percent, according to the Provisional Electoral Council. Préval needs at least 50 percent of the popular vote to avoid a runoff on March 19.

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.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 04, 2006


St. Kitts-Nevis economy rebounds according to IMF

The economy of St. Kitts-Nevis is rebounding from a series of adverse shocks over recent years that included three major hurricanes and a decline in tourism following the 9/11 attacks in the United States. According to an International Monetary Fund Executive Board staff report, real GDP growth exceeded 6 percent in 2004, and is projected to approach 5 percent for 2005. Tourism surged since 2003 thanks to favorable global growth as well as large recent investments in infrastructure. A number of new tourism developments were undertaken along with preparations for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, spurring construction activity. Inflation has been contained despite higher oil prices.

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.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?