This week?s article presents a letter from Haiti.

Dear ROK,

As CARICOM and the people of the Caribbean struggle to understand the events which unfolded in Haiti over the last few weeks, one cannot help but wonder what the people of Haiti are saying.

With my limited contacts in Haiti, I would have to say that I was privileged to receive two e-mails from Haiti, both against Mr. Aristide and charging him with brutal crimes.

There seem to be basically two sides to the question of Mr. Aristide. First are those who feel that Mr. Aristide should be reinstated and then there is the opposing view that he should remain in exile.

On Monday 22nd March 2004, a Haitian lady appeared on CBC TV?s ?Morning Barbados? putting a case for the reinstatement of Mr. Aristide. She noted that Mr. Aristide had 18 months to go and should have been allowed to complete his term.

In order to present another view, I propose to share an edited letter from Haiti, which charged that, ?Aristide was not a democratically elected president?. I must warn readers that the standard of the English is not good, but sufficient to be understood.

The writer stated: ?I stand behind principles. The same that make me fight during more than three years in exile for the return of Aristide. I refused several position offers in past governments and I have just done so once more. I am a professional but I am a proud Haitian citizen.?

The letter continues, ?In fact, according to the article 289 of the 1987 Constitution, ?no election can be held outside of an electoral law elaborated by the CEP (Provisory Electoral Council)?. Now, it happens that the electoral law of July 9,1999 was taken only to accomplish the legislative, the municipal and the local elections. No provision was ever made for presidential elections. Actually, another electoral law should have been taken for this presidential election.

?The second preamble of the July 9,1999 law, stipulates ?that it is suitable to adopt legal dispositions called to rule the next elections to supplement the Senate of the Republic, to reconstitute the Chamber of Deputies, the Administrative Counsel of the Communal Sections, the Municipality Counsels, the Assemblies of the Communal Sections, the Municipal and Departmental Assemblies, the Departmental Counsels and the Interdepartmental Counsel.?

?Article 17 of the said law, which specifies the electoral convocations to be done by the CEP, does not anywhere mention the election of the President of the Republic. Equally the same in Chapter VI, which talks about the elective functions opened for the next elections and about the eligibility conditions.

?It treats of the Deputy Chamber (articles 52 to 56), of the Senate (articles 57 to 65), for the Assembly of the Communal Section (articles 66 to 69), of the Administrative Counsel of the Communal Section ( articles 72 to 73), of the Municipal Counsel (articles 74 to 77), of the Town Delegates (articles 78 and 79), of the Municipal Assemblies, of the Departmental Assemblies, of the Departmental Councils and of the Interdepartmental Counsel (articles 80 to 84) and finally, it treats of the Permanent Electoral Council (article 85). The Chapter VII which treats of candidacy modalities for the elective functions is silent on the presidency. Thus no part of this legislative text treats of the election of the President of the Republic.

?One will note that the Provisory Electoral Council of the time was supposed to carry out the secondary elections relative to the Territorial Collectivities which were supposed to lead up to the formation of the Permanent Electoral Council.

?It is this last institution that was supposed to organise the presidential elections of the year 2000.

?The manoeuvers of the Fanmi Lavalas party have made people confuse the two electoral stages; however, no correction has been made to the electoral law to make it apt to carry out Jean-Bertrand Aristide?s election.

?It is evident that there were political challenges and sufficient internal contradictions to explain the manoeuvers of the latter to impede Rene Préval to achieve the electoral process as planned, and to carry out himself the elaboration of the Permanent Electoral Council.

?When, after the vote of November, the Civil Society Initiative (ISC) and the major Opposition parties tried to find a compromise, under the mediation of the international community, compromise which would allow Aristide to remain president at the condition that the other levels of elections are redone, the countries, friends of Haiti, hastened to give him an international recognition without any conditions.

?The current crisis is thus not, as one pleases to let believe, the business of the Haitian actors alone.

?Most of us were peacefully taking the streets at our own risks. Aristide henchmen have killed some of us and hundreds have been injured. So we, Haitian people, did not call foreign troops to do whatever for us. Aristide did. However they do not come for what he wanted.

?We have seen ten(s) of thousand(s) demonstrating under Aristide(?s) henchmen(s) bullets guns for months. I do not have any sympathy for the rebels but the population welcomed them (and) that is why it was so easy for less than 50 rebels to control half of the country in less than two weeks. I think some of those guys belong to jail, but it is another story.

(Submitted by Barbados Association of Non Governmental Organisations.)