US Rep Clark: Electoral 'crisis' serious; wants briefing from Secretary Kerry

A member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation is "deeply concerned" about the developing electoral crisis in Haiti and wants assurances from Secretary of State John Kerry that he will "make every effort possible" to support free and fair elections. The letter from US Rep. Katherine M. Clark— dated Jan. 19— comes just days before a scheduled Jan. 24 presidential run-off election that is in turmoil, with one of the two finalists calling for a national boycott.

Rep. Clark— who represents Massachusetts' 5th district— has requested a briefing on the matter from the US State Department by this Friday. In her letter to Secretary Kerry, Clark says that her "Haitian-American constituents and their families are deeply concerned about fraud in Haiti's electoral process and the resulting deterioration of of conditions for average Haitians on the ground." Clark says she is most concerned by the Jan. 24 "lacking legitimacy" if only one of two finalists participates in the run-off.

"If the next Haitian government is perceived as lacking legitimacy, this will certainly undermine long-term recovery and the humanitarian needs of the Haitian people," Clark wrote, adding: "... I urge you to make every effort to see that the ultimate outcome of any electoral process is Haitian-led, and is meaningfully reflective of Haitian popular will."

The US role in supporting the current national election has become focal point of candidate Jude Celestin's controversial call for a boycott of Sunday's election, despite calls from US diplomats and other international bodies, who say the election should proceed.

But Celestin has balked, saying that the first round of voting last October was fraught with tampering and voter intimidation. He's refused to campaign and has accused the current president— Michael Martelly— of rigging the vote to ensure the election of his favored candidate, Jovenel Moise.

"It's as if they have one type of democracy for themselves, and they would like to apply another type for Haiti," Celestin told the Associated Press. "There's only one kind of democracy. Democracy is the voice of the people, it's not different from one country to another.''

"Given the seriousness of the electoral situation in Haiti and the concern of my Haitian-American constituents that the Presidential runoff, if allowed to proceed without the confidence of the electorate, will result in further instability and suffering for the Haitian people, I respectful request a briefing via telephone this week, no later than [close of business] Friday, January 22nd," Rep. Clark wrote.