What are your plans regarding observation of the next elections?
I want to first apologize for my bad French and ask for your patience.
In the observation of elections in Haiti, the Haiti Democracy Project especially prizes its Haitian diaspora observers. They understand the conditions in Haiti, the people, the customs, yet they are not aligned with any particular party or interest in Haiti. The Haiti Democracy Project has sent more Diaspora observers to Haiti than any other organization.
When are the next elections and how many observers do you intend to send?
One cannot say when they will be. We have submitted proposals to the State Department and AID for Diaspora observation. It will really depend on whether the U.S. government is satisfied with the type of observation that merely is there physically and bears witness, or wants the kind that verifies the vote and corrects it, should this be necessary. That is the only kind of observation that the Haiti Democracy Project does.
Recently the United States sent a mission to Haiti and Amb. Thomas Adams made a strong statement about consequences if elections were not held this year. What is your opinion of that?
I believe Ambassador Adams was right in stating that. The elections are three years overdue, and clearly it will take strong pressure from the international community to make them happen.
Where is the process of finalizing the electoral commission at this point?
At this distance, it is a little hard to pronounce on those details. The more basic problem is the way the actors in Haiti view the electoral commission. They don’t see it as a technical body that merely counts the votes of the people. They see it as a political organism that determines election outcomes, regardless of how the people may have voted. That’s why you have the constant tug-of-war over the composition of the electoral commission. There are ways to correct this that have been used in many countries around the world, and we have suggested a few of them, to little avail since it would distract from the push just to have elections.
What are the prospects of the next elections being free and democratic?
No guess will be hazarded at this moment, but it is important to recall that Haiti did hold free and democratic ones in 2006 under the management of Jacques Bernard, who was an accomplished businessman and professional. Thus, Haiti has the capacity to hold good elections, it is just a matter of getting qualified Haitians in the right positions. We very much regretted it when Jacques Bernard was forced out of the electoral commission in 2007. The result was the very flawed elections of 2009, 2010, and 2011. Haiti is still suffering from them today.