|Page 2 of 2 <|
Duvalier's return adds to Haiti's political turmoil
According to the OAS, the third-place finisher is now Jude Celestin, a virtual unknown from the government road building department, who is Preval's hand-picked successor. If the OAS recommendations are accepted, Celestin will be out of the running - and Preval's party suddenly out of power - as only the top two candidates face off in a runoff.
Preval has said nothing in public about the OAS report, though diplomatic and government sources say he was angered when an earlier version was leaked and has given confused signals about his plans. He has suggested he would like the report "modified."
The U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, said in an interview that the U.S. government supports the OAS report and its conclusions. "The international community is entirely unified on this point. There is nothing to negotiate in the report," Merten said. He said he hoped that the Preval government and electoral council would accept this "and move forward with second-round elections."
OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza is scheduled to travel to Port-au-Prince on Monday to meet with Preval.
"I think the Haitian people have been very patient, but my feeling, from the vibe on the street if you will, is that they are not going to wait indefinitely," said a diplomat representing a donor nation. Another official from the European Union in Haiti said any attempt by Preval to push Celestin into power would be "disastrous" for reconstruction.
On Friday, Celestin supporters briefly set fires and erected blockades.
Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti's prime minister, said in an interview, "We are pretty sure we will comply with the recommendations of the OAS."
Bellerive said his greatest fear was a return of the kind of violence that followed the release of the preliminary results in December, when Martelly supporters and others took to the streets and shut down the capital for two days with road blocks and burning tires.
"This is it for the regime. The people want change. They voted for change. It is time for Preval to go," Martelly said in an interview at his home last week.
Martelly called the November presidential election "a mess. There was well-organized disorganization, designed to ensure that Celestin wins the election. Of course, the numbers that we have seen are not the real numbers. Dead people voted. But we say let's just go forward. We will take any numbers that put us in the second round, where we know we are going to win."
It is now up to Preval and the pro-Preval electoral council to announce their plans. It is possible the government will annul the previous presidential election and call for a do-over, delaying for months the installation of a new president.
The Preval government could reject the OAS recommendations and insist that its candidate, Celestin, be in the second round. This would be rejected by the U.S. government and most of the donor nations. Manigat could refuse to run against Celestin and if elections continued without her, Haiti's next president would probably be considered illegitimate by the international community, donor nations and many Haitians.