T&T, India: Advise US on democratic elections


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Category: International Date: 19 Nov 00

‘Political and human-rights climate deteriorates as the military and the de facto government sanction repression, assassination, torture, and rape’


‘This time, the Americans need our help, if not to save lives, at least to save face and we are glad to do you a good turn for a change Uncle Sam’


GRENADA, October 13 1983: The Army, under the direction of the former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, deposes of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and establishes military rule of the smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere.


Solution: The US Administration cites the current state of martial law in Grenada (anyone out on the streets was to be shot) and possible danger to American students there as its reason to send some 1,900 marines to the island.


Before dawn on October 25, those marines, other US troops, and a small force provided by other Caribbean nations invade the island. President Reagan tells reporters that the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States asked the United States to invade Grenada and restore peace and security in the area.


Panama: Manuel Noriega (who has ruled Panama since 1983 when he seized control of the military as head of the National Guard manipulating elections, turning successive presidents into his puppets) is declared President by the Panamanian legislature on December 15, 1989.


Noriega uses his power as President to imprison and kill those who oppose him. Corruption is widespread during Noriega’s rule and in 1987 a former officer of the Panamanian defense force publicly accuses Noriega of co-operating with Columbian drug producers. The US and Panama declare war. The US administration imposes strict sanctions that take a toll on the country. A US Marine is shot dead.


Solution: On December 20, 1989 the US administration contravenes international law and its own government policies by invading Panama “to bring its President Manuel Noriega to justice for drug trafficking.”


President George Bush orders “Operation Just Cause”, an invasion consisting of over 25,000 soldiers. The mission results in the loss of hundreds of Panamanian lives and heavy damage to Panama City and El Chorillo.


The US military is able to quickly achieve its goals. Noriega surrenders on January 3, 1990 and is taken to the US.


HAITI: President Aristide and General Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed forces, sign the UN-brokered Governors Island Agreement establishing a 10-step process for the restoration of constitutional government and the return of President Aristide by October 30, 1993.


Robert Malval is sworn in as Prime Minister on August 30, 1993. The military derails the process. The UN re-imposes sanctions. Marvel resigns on December 15, 1993, but continues to act as Prime Minister for 11 more months.


The political and human-rights climate deteriorates as the military and the de facto government sanction repression, assassination, torture, and rape in open defiance of the international community’s condemnation. In May 1994, the military selects Supreme Court Justice Emile Jonassaint as provisional president of its third de facto regime. Jonassaint controls the government apparatus in Haiti, forcing President Aristide in exile and blocking Acting Prime Minister Malval from carrying out his duties.


Solution: In August 1994 the United States takes the lead in forming a multinational force (MNF) to carry out the UN’s mandate (authorising member states to use all necessary means to restore constitutional rule) with military intervention. In September, with US troops prepared to enter Haiti in a matter of hours, President Clinton dispatches a negotiating team, led by former President Jimmy Carter, to discuss with the de facto Haitian leadership the terms of their departure. As a result, the MNF deploys peacefully. Cedras and other top military leaders leave Haiti, and restoration of the legitimate government begins, leading to Aristide’s return on October 15.


United States of America, November 7, 2000 Elections: By 2 am, the impact was similar to that of a sharp cutlass splitting a pomegranate of many states in exactly two parts and then again, in four. Bizarre, that in a country of 205 million eligible voters, only about half - 98.9 million people voted, and between them, split their votes between their two presidential candidates, George Bush and Al Gore so almost evenly, there were demands for a constitutional recount.

Then the proverbial slime hit the fan. All the electoral defects in the “big brother” of democracy came under the world’s microscope and what a mess! George Bush’s sliver of a win is thrown into the law courts. There are discrepancies - ballots are counted differently in every county, the ballots, normally a very simple piece of paper, confuse voters; expensive computers make errors - 150,000 votes are invalidated. Five counties ask for a recount.


Enter, in the world’s most powerful democracy, the Secretary of State of Florida, Katherine Harris, a Republican, who openly supports George Bush, and who upholds a state law in Florida asking for the impossible. That is that! All hand recounts should be finished by a certain date. The one complete recount puts George Bush ahead of Al Gore. The Democrats appeal and say law or no law, mistakes mean the American people are being disenfranchised. Today, Sunday, you may or may not know who the new president is, but it’s been a long embarrassing few weeks for democracy in America.


Solution: Call in the Election Commissioners from democracies worldwide to advise the US on how to hold elections - led jointly by India as the largest democracy in the world, and T&T, the most complex.  Election commissioners order an immediate re-polling. No law suits, no Republican secretary of state, no democratic courts, uniform counting throughout the states. This time, the Americans need our help, if not to save lives, at least to save face and we are glad to do you a good turn for a change Uncle Sam - after all, as we know from experience, the American Presidency is too serious a business to be left to Americans alone.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur