Mirlande H. Manigat, Haitian presidential candidate

I wonder what Mirlande Manigat had said to her husband, Leslie F. Manigat, when he shared with her his intention to run for president in Haiti in the election of January 17, 1988, which was rejected by 96% of the electorate.

Your inquiry minds may be asking why is it that only 4% of the electorate participated in that election. Well, I am going to tell you why, and I hope you are taking notes.

There was to be a presidential election on November 29, 1987 -the very first democratic election to be taken place in the country after the collapse of the Duvalier regime in 1986. The population was extremely motivated and enthusiastic to participate in that election; the turnout was to be unprecedentedly huge.

On Ruelle Vaillant, in Port-au-Prince, on the day of the election, there was a voting precinct; early in the morning, there was already a long line of people standing and waiting to cast their votes. As the line was getting increasingly long and thick in numbers, a truck loaded with armed military personnel, under the command of Colonel Jean Claude Paul, drove by and massacred between 30 and 300 unarmed innocent civilians, which has suscitated the annulment of the election.

The entire country fell in a state of consternation and trepidation; we were mourning for months the death of these innocent and honorable human beings.

There was an outcry from the population calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. But as it is customary in Haiti, an endless investigation was said to be on the way, and, until today, no one has ever been arrested and tried.

These innocent civilians did not do anything to deserve such horrible fate; they were only standing in line to vote and thereby fulfill a civic duty.

After the carnage, slaughter or bloodbath (however you want to call it), the National Council of Government (French: Conseil National de Gouvernement), presided by General Henri Namphy, decided to call for another election to be taken place on January 17, 1988. This time, the electorate was not in tune.

A call to boycott the election was issued by most of the grassroots organizations and political parties at the time. Only a very few political parties, including the RDNP of Leslie Manigat, participated in that election.

It was a simulacrum, for which only 4% of the electorate turned out. That election was a farce only to hand the presidency to Leslie Manigat, who was going to be toppled in a coup by the military five months later, precisely on June 20, 1988.

Now, throughout this contentious presidential campaign, Mirlande Manigat has put his rival, Michel J. Martelly, to trial. She has managed to make this election a referendum on Martelly’s morality.

In my humble opinion, I think she has been given a free pass as though she is a purist. No one, not even the press, has taken the time to find out things about her; they are too busy digging into Martelly’s personal life. It is a conspiracy against Martelly.

I think it is time to have a serious conversation on morality in this country. What is considered moral and what is not? Are the rules of morality only address the behavior of an artist who, in his stage performance, happens to be pulling his pants down, wearing a mini skirt, and/or bombarding the ears of his fans with profanity? I refuse to believe so.

Leslie Manigat, by his participation in the shameful January 17, 1987 election, has proven to be a man of no character -one who would accede to power at any cost, even if that means putting in jeopardy the sovereignty of the nation. He must have told his wife, Mirlande Manigat, of his intention to run for president in that election, and she must have approved of it.

When it comes to morality, Mirlande Manigat is in no position to put anybody to trial in a morality court. She has no moral authority to preside over such body. She is just as immoral as the person she is accusing of being immoral, because in the eye of the just, being a person of no character is in itself immoral. So she needs to retire her morality argument.

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