Haiti has come a long way in the past six months, and the presidential vote last Sunday is an indication that we are on the way to change, a change that I envisioned when I declared my candidacy for Haiti’s presidency last summer. Ruled off the ballot by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), I kept going, embracing the candidacy of Michel Martelly, who has been propelled forward with his message of change and hope to the youth of Haiti, bringing a new sense of leadership to Haitian politics that has never existed and will be in the forefront for the world to see!
Despite the many stories about my wound on the eve of the Haitian election, I am glad to say I am doing well and recovering quickly. The story shouldn’t be about my hand, but instead, what happened on the day of the election in Haiti. For the first time in a very long time the youth of Haiti, making up over 52 percent of the population, heard democracy ring through the mountains. of Haiti, I am savoring the victory of the majority of Haitians who voted peacefully on Sunday against the status quo.
We should be careful and watchful in the next few days. The CEP, empowered to organize the elections, states that preliminary results will be released on March 31, with the final and official count on April 16. Considering the past performance of that contested body, it is with trepidation that we are waiting. Already the adverse camp is criticizing a radio station that published some early results based on actual figures that showed Mr. Martelly with a commanding lead — more than 70% in certain precincts. We are admonished not to rush into any conclusion, because only the word of the CEP is official. Meanwhile, the press office of presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat released information Monday via the internet claiming that “the first official minutes that reached our campaign Office indicates that [our] candidate is winning in all the departments.” Also, undocumented information.
We hope that the CEP will redeem itself from the mess it created in the first round. How can we forget what happened last November 28? Thanks to some national and international electoral observers, we saw in black and white the fraud that was perpetrated by the CEP under the watch of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the MINUSTAH, as the United Nations Mission in Haiti is called. An example among many was what happened in the Northeast Department. Through a manipulation of the numbers at the CEP’s tabulation center, 15 votes became 115 and 20 turned into 220. Thus were some legislators under the banner of pro-government INITE (Unity) party elected in the first round. Despite protests against those blatant acts of fraud, nothing was changed.
Only unrestrained violence after last December 7 publication of the presidential results forced the hand of the international community, that had spent some $29 million for the bungled elections. But in the aftermath of mayhem that resulted in the burning of government buildings in Cayes (southern Haiti) and of INITE’s party headquarters in Port-au-Prince, newly empowered OAS observers reviewed the numbers for only three finishers in the presidential race. It was determined that the pro-government candidate, Jude Celestin, was not really in second place. Michel Martelly, 50, popularly known as “Sweet Micky”, was the actual No. 2 and would have a run-off election against law professor and former First Lady Mirlande Manigat , 70.
The choice wasn’t at all difficult for me. While I acknowledge the intellectual capacity of Madame Manigat and smiled at her slogans of “Here’s your mom,” “Embrace your mom,” “Ask for your mom”, I see her as a continuation of the past regime. For me, Mr. Martelly is a clear departure from the status quo. He’s a man with a vision for the future of Haiti, one who listens to young voices and leans on experience to bring about needed change.
I salute the Haitian people for their determination in voting for change despite the character assassination of the candidate of change. And I call on the international community that helped finance the process to exercise proper oversight this time. The country needs to go from the uncertainty of the moment, to some normalcy. We have waited too long after January 12, 2010 to build and rebuild the new Haiti, which must be decentralized.