Haiti’s René Préval says UN tried to remove him
Edmond Mulet, former head of the UN mission in Haiti, denies allegations made by past president René Préval in documentary Fatal Assistance.
Haiti’s René Préval says UN tried to remove him
By: Catherine Porter Columnist, Published on Mon May 13 2013
In yet another twist in the Rubik’s cube of Haitian politics, the country’s past president, René Préval, says the United Nations tried to remove him from the country before his term was over.
In a recently released documentary, Préval says the former head of the UN mission in Haiti called him on the day of the internationally sponsored elections in November 2010, to say “political problems” required the president to leave.
“I got a phone call from Mr. (Edmond) Mulet, who was head of MINUSTAH, saying: ‘Mr. President, this is a political problem. We need to get you on a plane and evacuate you,’” Préval says in the documentary, Fatal Assistance. “I said: ‘Bring your plane, collect me from the palace, handcuff me, everyone will see that it’s a kidnapping.’”
The UN has been in Haiti for nine years on a “stabilization” mission to promote democracy, strengthen Haiti’s institutions and protect human rights. It sponsored the 2010 elections, along with international donors including the United States and Canada, which came 10 months after an earthquake left 1.5 million in makeshift refugee camps.
At the time, Mulet said the election was important to create political stability so the country’s reconstruction could start in earnest. The election had already been delayed since February and civil unrest over Préval’s perceived inaction was mounting. To add to the turmoil, the country was panicked about the recent outbreak of deadly cholera, and already the word was that UN peacekeeping soldiers from Nepal had brought the disease.
That first round of elections in November was marred by fraud and rioting. The polls had only been open for a few hours when 12 of the 18 presidential candidates held a press conference to denounce the vote as a massive fraud orchestrated by Préval’s Inite (Unity) party.
“I never said that, he never answered that,” Mulet told the Star when asked about Préval’s allegation. “I was worried if he didn’t stop the fraud and rioting, a revolution would force him to leave. I didn’t have the capability, the power or the interest of putting him on a plane.”
Foreign powers, notably the United States, have a long record of meddling with Haitian politics. The country was occupied for 19 years by American marines, ending in 1934. More recently, an American plane whisked away dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier during the popular uprising of 1986 and, 18 years later, president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was facing a coup. Afterward, Aristide called his evacuation a “kidnapping.”
“You have a bunch of ambassadors who feel they are governors of Haiti,” Fatal Assistance director Raoul Peck said in an interview. “They are the ones crafting politics in Haiti. They are the ones creating government there. We have a long history of this. They’d rather have a dictator, if he’s our man and we can control the country.”
Peck, it should be noted, was Haiti’s culture minister for two years during Préval’s first government in the late 1990s. His documentary is a searing condemnation of interference in Haiti by donor countries.
It contains a number of bombshells, including another accusation by Préval: that the elections were rigged by the United Nations and the United States.
The elections were messy. After the initial November vote, the Haitian electoral council (CEP) proclaimed the top two finishers for the next round of voting: Mirlande Manigat and Jude Celestin, Préval’s handpicked successor. The result was rioting in the streets. A month later, a group of monitors from the Organization of American States contradicted the CEP’s counts, replacing Celestin with Michel Martelly, the eventual winner. After that, Préval says he called Mulet to his office.
“I summoned him to come: ‘Problem solved?’ He said: ‘No, it isn’t. If the OAS isn’t in line with the American mission’s recommendations we won’t accept the election results,’” Préval says in documentary.
“I told him whatever candidate wins, wins. And he replied that they wouldn’t accept those results. I asked: ‘So why hold elections?’”
It’s not clear in the documentary what the American mission’s recommendations were, although the embassy did openly dismiss the CEP’s findings.
Mulet, who is now based in New York as assistant secretary general of peacekeeping operations for the United Nations, categorically dismissed Préval’s accusations.
“It was the other way around. We were talking to him, asking ‘Why carry out elections if in the end the president is elected through fraudulent ways?’”
Mulet has not yet seen Fatal Assistance. “But it seems Raoul Peck couldn’t escape the Haitian curse of ‘Pas fault moi,’” he said, a term that means “it’s not my fault.”