The Obama administration on Thursday denied its suspension of electoral assistance to Haiti was for the sake of leverage after the island nation resolved to scrap a massively fraudulent election from 2015. State Department Spokesman John Kirby fielded and stumbled over questions from journalists during the July 7 press briefing on the matter.
The State Department was clear in its opposition to a suspension of the electoral cycle on January 22; an investigation and subsequent findings of massive fraud, May 1 to May 31; and the decision of a new Provisional Electoral Council to at least redo the presidential contest.
“We’ve made no bones about the fact that we had concerns about the way the process was unfolding. And as I said, we had no plans – did not plan for funding for two more electoral rounds,” said Kirby, undenying of the Obama administration displeasure. But when asked whether the suspension of electoral assistance was linked to Haiti’s decision to scrap the first contests, he began to stumble.
The nature and timing of the suspension of aid was not lost on journalists who askedKirby about the timing. He could not confirm when the decision to suspend was made but did say that diplomats began expressing their “concerns” in April 2016. This was the month where Haitian Provisional President Jocelerme Privert entered into talks with political actors regarding the establishment of a commission and terms for a fair investigation of the 2015 elections.
Kirby was then asked “in terms of maintaining diplomatic influence, is the U.S. in a way giving up leverage by withholding the electoral funds, or does the U.S. see that it has more influence over a recommitment to democratic principles and policies in Port-au-Prince?”
To this question he reiterated that the European Union and the Organization of American States had found the 2015 elections acceptable. It deserves noting that the OAS is highly criticized for its role, in concert with the Hillary Clinton State Department, in the changing election results in 2010. He also spoke of U.S. support for reconstruction and development since the 2010 earthquake, which has been criticized widely by journalists, researchers and observers alike, to the expenditure and actual work done.
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