Saturday, July 16, 2005

Democracy is in retreat

An appointed council may soon dictate that widely-supported candidates will be unable to run in a supposedly-democratic election.

Think this refers to Iran? Not exactly:
An American-backed advisory council that oversees Haiti's interim government recommended Saturday that ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's political party be barred from upcoming elections, accusing the party of encouraging violence.

The effective charge against the Lavalas party is that "(p)olitical groups who identify themselves with the (party)...continue to promote and tolerate violence". It's a charge (1) that doesn't actually refer to the party itself, (2) that probably applies to most political parties worldwide (should the Republicans be disqualified from running for office because Ann Coulter identifies with them?), and (3) that can't be disproven. Needless to say, it's not a valid basis for denying Haitians the chance the vote for the candidates who they actually support.

The timing of this announcement is interesting, given that Canada just told the U.N. that it wouldn't send more troops to Haiti. This may be an opportunity for Canada to offer to send troops after all, but on the condition that elections actually involve all parties. Our help has been specifically sought out, giving us an important chance to tell the U.S. that the proposed ban on Lavalas is utterly inappropriate if the goal of the international community is truly to promote democracy.

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