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Road to 9/8: Is the IEBC Prepared?

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This is the fourth of a series of articles that discuss some of the major issues at stake, and the roles played by various institutions in safeguarding the integrity of the August 2022 general election.

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Road to 9/8: What Is at Stake?
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The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC’s) centrality to the electoral process cannot be understated. There is a clear nexus between the perception of its credibility and the likelihood of instability. A recently conducted dry run of the IEBC’s new results transmission system recorded a failure rate of nearly 60%. Of the 2,900 polling stations used for the simulation, only 1,200 successfully transmitted data. This is deeply concerning in an election where we will have the highest number of polling stations and registered voters in Kenyan history at 46,232 and 22.1 million respectively. Illustratively, if the same failure rate is recorded during the actual election, this would mean 27,739 polling stations would fail to transmit results. In our previous articles, we discussed the IEBC’s use of technology in elections administration. In this article, we further scrutinize the elections management body’s readiness for the upcoming polls. Is the IEBC election ready? Can it administer a credible election?

Based on the Supreme Court’s indictment of the IEBC’s elections management in 2017 and the IEBC’s own assessment in its Post-Election Evaluation Report, the recurring themes in the IEBC’s shortcomings are its procurement practices, its use of technology and its internal capacity.  In appraising the IEBC’s, we are guided by its failings in previous electoral cycles and ask whether these have been remedied. A creature of the Constitution, the IEBC is mandated with continuous voter registration, elections administration, campaign financing regulation and registration of political candidates. We will focus only on continuous voter registration and elections administration.

Questionable procurement

In the historic 2017 judgment annulling the results of the presidential elections, the Supreme Court found that the IEBC’s transmission of results was riddled with irregularities. From missing statutory forms to statistical anomalies in the transmission of results, the Court concluded that it was unlikely the poll was credible. At the centre of these challenges was IDEMIA, the entity contracted by the IEBC to provide the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) which included biometric voter registration kits and a results transmission system. Under the Elections Act, the IEBC is required to use an integrated electoral system that enables biometric voter registration, electronic voter identification and the electronic transfer of results. Since 2013, the IEBC’s procurement of service providers to print ballot papers and administer the KIEMS has been surrounded by controversy. Writing for Africa Uncensored, John-Allan Namu has recently chronicled the IEBC’s seemingly systemic challenges with procurement. The circumstances surrounding IDEMIA’s procurement by the IEBC suggest significant external influence. In 2013, IDEMIA successfully secured the contract with the IEBC despite it not having the most viable bid. Further, despite lingering doubts around the credibility of its conduct of the 2013 election, IDEMIA was directly procured to administer the 2017 election for the alarming amount of KES 4 billion – the most expensive election in the region at the time. Internal records indicate that the IEBC was conflicted about the propriety and feasibility of IDEMIA’s procurement. Eventually, IDEMIA would sub-contract the results transmission to another entity.  The disastrous performance of the KIEMS in 2017 hardly needs to be recounted. The IEBC’s procurement challenges were not only limited to the integrated elections management system. A few months before the 2017 general elections, the IEBC’s procurement of Dubai-based Al Ghurair to print the ballots for the presidential elections was under scrutiny before the High Court and the Court of Appeal. This time, Al Ghurair was locked out for failing to meet a local shareholding requirement which was introduced following the 2017 elections.

Half a decade later, the IEBC seems to be in the same position. This time, it has procured Smartmatic International to administer the KIEMS and Inform P Lykos to print the ballot papers. Coincidentally, Smartmatic is the only company whose bid beat that of IDEMIA in 2013 yet it was not contracted. So, who is Smartmatic?  Earlier this year, the Philippine Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Centre concluded that Smartmatic’s system was ‘compromised’ during elections it administered, not exactly an endorsement of its potential to administer Kenya’s forthcoming elections. Why would the IEBC lurch from one questionable service provider from one election to the next? On the basis of credibility, Smartmatic’s contract with the IEBC was questioned before the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board by Risk Africa Innovatis, which this time emerged second in the bidding for the contract. Inform P Lykos’ contract for the printing of the ballot papers was also challenged but the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board dismissed both cases. In each case, the complainants appealed to the High Court, which is yet to decide, but the IEBC has proceeded to contract both entities, citing the urgency of the elections and the absence of injunctions restraining them from doing so.

Unpacking the IEBC’s sense of urgency, it is apparent that history once again is repeating itself. In its Post-Election Evaluation Report, the IEBC highlighted that delays in disbursements from the Exchequer has, in each election cycle, compromised its adherence to statutory timelines. During this cycle, the IEBC’s clean-up of the voter register was impeded by IDEMIA’s refusal to hand over voter data to Smartmatic, apparently because of non-payment by IEBC. That the IEBC would conclude a contract that would permit a third-party service to exercise a lien over Kenyans’ personal data in that way is unsettling.  Unfortunately, like the government’s contract for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway, IEBC’s contract with IDEMIA has never been made available to the public, and it appears that neither will its agreement with Smartmatic. On the procurement front, it appears that not much has changed since 2017.

Failing technology and weak security

In the 2017 election, approximately 27% of polling stations lacked sufficient network coverage to support results transmission and, according to the IEBC, the result was a transmission rate 92.7%. This time, there have been conflicting statements by the IEBC regarding its network coverage. In April, an IEBC official announced that only approximately 260 polling stations (out of the total 46,232) lacked network coverage. In June, this number went up to 1,111. The Supreme Court, in the 2017 presidential election petition, directed the IEBC to ensure that all polling stations had sufficient network coverage. It is now clear that the IEBC has failed to comply with this directive, and this fact has been brought up in a law suit against the IEBC for its decision to scrap the manual voter register contrary to the provisions of the Elections Act. With the failure rate recorded during the dry run, the doubts over Smartmatic’s system and the large number of polling stations without sufficient network coverage, it is unclear if the IEBC can deliver an election without significant structural failings.

Aside from the integrated elections management system, the voter register presented seemingly insurmountable challenges to the IEBC. While the Elections Act requires the IEBC to conduct an audit of the voter register not less than 6 months before the elections, KPMG was instructed to audit the register in March. Even before this audit was complete, the IEBC admitted that the voter register was breached, and voter data unlawfully transferred. Over 1 million voters were affected, with, for example, some voters who were registered in Nyeri County being transferred to counties in the former North Eastern Province. The IEBC chairman has since announced that the responsible officers have been identified and would be prosecuted. Especially because of the recent decision by the IEBC to scrap the manual register in favour of the digital register, the importance of the latter’s reliability is clear. What remains unclear is the sufficiency of the IEBC’s efforts to secure this reliability.

Poor human resource planning

Immediately after the Supreme Court nullified the presidential elections in 2017, the IEBC experienced a mass exodus in its leadership. The CEO, Ezra Chiloba, and four commissioners all resigned. These officials, among others from the IEBC, have since been appointed to eye-catching positions. Chiloba was recently appointed as Director General of the Communications Authority, Immaculate Kassait is now the Data Commissioner, and James Muhati, the immediate former ICT director is now in charge of Huduma Kenya. Perhaps questions should also be raised regarding the Chairman’s continuance with the IEBC despite the colossal failure that was the 2017 election. The vacancies in the IEBC were only completely filled in September last year, 11 months to the elections. In its Post-Election Evaluation Report, the IEBC highlighted that in each cycle, its internal human resource capacity has been wanting. According to the Independent Review Commission, for an electoral management body to adequately prepare for an election, its leadership needs to be in place at least 24 months prior to the elections. In 2013, the IEBC’s vacancies were filled 15 months prior to the elections, and in 2017, this period was only 7 months. Between the delayed release of funds by the Treasury and the lack of political goodwill in filling its vacancies, it appears that the IEBC is designed to fail.

It goes without saying that an organisation’s leadership will determine, in large part, whether it will effectively deliver on its mandate. Are the commissioners currently in office, based on their backgrounds, up to the task of elections management? Before joining the IEBC, none of the current commissioners, including the Chairperson, had any experience in elections management. The upshot of this, is that save for Chebukati, who is the chair, and Commissioners Guliye and Molu, the commission’s leadership of 7 are all new to elections management.  Those who are not new learnt on the job and do not have appear to have relevant academic qualifications. Even the CEO lacks a background in elections management. Comparatively, South Africa’s Electoral Commission is comprised of a total of 5 commissioners, 3 of whom have over a decade’s experience in elections management. One of the commissioners, Dr. Masuku, even developed the Electoral Commission’s strategy and implementation framework in 1998. While a diverse skillset is important at leadership level, it goes without saying that practical knowledge of elections management is crucial and would undoubtedly influence the conduct of elections by electoral agencies. It is unsurprising that with the record of the leadership of South Africa’s Electoral Commission  it has had far fewer doubts raised around its credibility.  The IEBC’s top management are not self-evidently capable of administering a free and fair election: nothing in the background of the Commissioners suggests that this is a task to which they are accustomed or to which they can easily adapt.  Most are novices in this arena.  It is the equivalent of putting a ship out to into sea buffeted by gale force winds under a captain whose primary qualification is that many ships have capsized under the captain’s command.

Is it ready?

Unfortunately, despite its attempts to address its previous failings, one cannot help but conclude that the more things change, the more they stay the same at the IEBC.  It is an institution, institutionally designed to fail.  Significant doubt still exists over its procurement process and choices, the technology it proposes to use seems not to be credible, it has had major lapses in security, and it has key officers un who lack professional credibility in the management of elections. In summary, the IEBC is not up to the task. We would be surprised if it was not found wanting. Its shortcomings are both errors of omission and commission.  We should have done a lot better.  We will now reap what we have sown with an electoral body unfit for purpose.

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By

Karim Anjarwalla is the Managing Partner of ALN Kenya|Anjarwalla & Khanna, a leading corporate law firm in Africa. He is also a director of the ALN Academy, an organization dedicated to enhancing the rule of law in Africa. Karim is passionate about entrenching good governance in both private and public institutions in the region, and has written extensively on topics at the intersection of Rule of Law, ethics and economics. Abdulmalik Sugow is a lawyer at ALN Kenya|Anjarwalla & Khanna and a legal researcher. His research interests include content moderation, intermediary liability and more broadly, the nexus of social media and democracy. Abdulmalik has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and on mainstream and independent media platforms. He has previously consulted for the World Bank and the Kofi Annan Foundation.

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Twitter: Let It Burn!

Whether or not Twitter survives should be irrelevant to those committed to building a democratic public sphere.

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Twitter: Let It Burn!
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Elon Musk finally bought Twitter. Although everyone expected the move to quickly prove foolhardy, the speed of the implosion has been impressive. The latest gaffe is a failed attempt to monetize verification by requiring paid subscriptions for them, which has led to all manner of comical impersonations (one macabre highlight was a “verified” George W. Bush account tweeting “I miss killing Iraqis. “Tony Blair” responded with “Same tbh”). Some are watching with shock and horror and wondering if Twitter can be saved. But, when sulfur and fire rains, it is best not to look back.

Africa Is a Country managing editor, Boima Tucker, put it best some years ago: “Contrary to the utopian dreams of the early internet, the idea of a more democratic communications space has given way to a system of capitalist exploitation.” The thing to reckon with is the extent to which we have exaggerated the emancipatory potential of networked communication and social media, partly owing to our own psychic overinvestments in it. Which is not to deny that it has never shown democratic and egalitarian potential, but that’s never been what Twitter is forThere can be no right platform in the wrong world.

What was Twitter for then? In the New York Review of Books, Ben Tarnoff describes it as a “network of influence.” In a world characterized by the economization of everything, social media is the place to commodify the self, to transform one’s unique traits and personality into a product for public display. The main imperative online is to “stay on brand,” to cultivate an appealing enough persona in the endless “production of new genres of being human.”

The key contradiction of social media use, of course, is that even though these platforms appear to us as complete products that we participate in and consume, we are the ones responsible for ensuring their possibility in the first place. As the media scholar Christian Fuchs notes, “Digital work is the organization of human experiences with the help of the human brain, digital media and speech in such a way that new products are created. These products can be online information, meanings, social relations, artifacts or social systems.” Thus, it is us who create the value of these platforms.

In a better world, these digital communications platforms would be democratically owned and operated. But one also wonders if in a better world they would be as necessary. Perhaps, when we are less socially disaffected, living in societies with social provision, an abundance of recreational public goods and less exploitative, dignifying work, then we would all have less reason to be online. For now, the question is: in a time when this ideal is nowhere close to being within view, how best can we use platforms like Twitter as tools to get us to that world?

The possible answers here are murky. Twitter seems like a critical piece of infrastructure for modern political life. Musk is not alone in thinking of it as a marketplace of ideas, as something like a digital town square. Yet, and especially in Africa, Twitter is not as popular a platform, and even on it, a minority of Twiteratti exert an outsized influence in terms of setting the discursive agenda. But setting aside the question of who is excluded from the digitalized public sphere of which Twitter is a cornerstone, the important question is whether the quality of political debate that takes place is healthy or desirable at all. Granted, it can be fun and cathartic, but at the best of times, amounts to hyper-politics. In Anton Jager’s explanation, this:

can only occur at a discursive level or within the prism of mediatic politics: every major event is scrutinized for its ideological character, this produces controversies which play out among increasingly clearly delineated camps on social media platforms and are then rebounded through each side’s preferred media outlets. Through this process much is politicized, but little is achieved.

We would lack critical self-awareness if we did not admit that Africa Is A Country is a venue whose existence greatly benefits from an online presence—so it goes for every media outlet. Tarnoff points out that “… if Twitter is not all that populous in absolute terms, it does exert considerable power over popular and elite discourses.” To lack an online presence is to reconcile oneself to irrelevance. Although, the news cycle itself is a disorienting vortex of one topic du jour to the next. It makes difficult the kind of long, slow, and sustained discourse-over-time that is the lifeblood of politics, and instead reduces everything into fleeting soundbites.

Nowhere is the modern phenomenon of what Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman called “pointillist time” more apparent than on Twitter. For Bauman, pointillist time is the experience of temporality as a series of eternal instants, and the present moment’s connection to the past and future “turns into gaps—with no bridges, and hopefully unbridgeable.” The consequence of this, is that “there is no room for the idea of ‘progress.’” Living through a mode where everything seems to be happening all at once, is both to experience time as what Walter Benjamin called “a “time of possibilities, a random time, open at any moment to the unforeseeable irruption of the new,” but curiously, at the same time, for everything to feel inert, and for nothing to seem genuinely possible.

For a while, notions of historical progress have been passé on the left, associated with Eurocentric theories of modernity. Now, more than ever, the idea is worth reclaiming. The Right today is no longer straightforwardly conservative, but nihilistic and anti-social, thriving on sowing deeper communal mistrust and paranoia. These are pathologies that flourish on Twitter. The alternative to media-fuelled hyper-politics and anti-politics is not real politics per some ideal type. Politics, in the first instance, is not defined by content, but by form. The reason our politics are empty and shallow is not because today’s political subject lacks virtues possessed by the subjects of yore. It’s because today’s political subject is barely one in the first place, lacking rootedness in those institutions that would have ordinarily shaped an individual’s clear sense of values and commitments. The alternative to digitized human association, as noted by many, is mass politics: only when the majority of citizens are meaningfully mobilized through civic and political organizations can we create a vibrant and substantive public sphere.

AIAC editor Sean Jacobs observed in his book, Media In Post-apartheid South Africa: “the larger context for the growing role of media in political processes is the decline of mass political parties and social movements.” Whether Twitter dies or not, and if it does, whether we should mourn it or not, should be beside the point for those committed to building a world of three-dimensional solidarity and justice.

This post is from a partnership between Africa Is a Country and The Elephant. We will be publishing a series of posts from their site once a week.

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COP 27: Climate Negotiations Repeatedly Flounder

The distribution of global pandemic deaths ignored existing country vulnerability assessments and dealt some of the heaviest blows to the best prepared countries in the world

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As COP 27 in Egypt nears its end, I find it difficult, almost impossible, to talk to my children about climate change. The shame of our monumental failings as a global community to address the greatest crisis our planet has consciously faced weighs too heavy. The stakes have never been higher, the moral quivering of political leaders has never been more distressing.

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” goes the famous commandment from George Orwell’s political allegory Animal Farm. It applies with particular acuity to international negotiations, where each country has a seat, but seats hold very different weights. The outcome of the Sharm-El-Sheik conference will in large part depend on what Western governments are willing to commit to and follow up on. Rich European and other Western countries are historically responsible for the bulk of carbon emissions. The moral case for them being the first-movers and the biggest movers on cutting emissions is crystal clear, and genuine commitments on their part may hold the key to opening up the floodgate of policy innovation towards decarbonization in other countries.

In this context, viewed from the Global South, recent events in the country that still held the COP presidency until it was handed over to Egypt appear as signs of the madness that grips societies before a fall. In her short time as head of government in the UK, Liz Truss spoke as if she lived on another planet that did not show signs of collapsing under the battering of models of economic growth birthed under the British Empire, gleefully pronouncing that her three priorities for Britain were “growth, growth and growth.” Her successor, Rishi Sunak, announced that he would not attend the COP 27 climate summit because he had to focus on the UK economy. The silver lining is that Truss did not last long and Sunak was shamed into reversing his decision. In a scathing rebuke, the Spanish environment minister called the shenanigans of British political leaders “absurd” and pointed out that elections in Brazil and Australia show that voters are starting to punish leaders who ignore climate change.

I see another silver lining. Last week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that Europe was warming twice as fast as other parts of the world. A similar report was not issued for North America, but other studies indicate faster than average temperature increases across the continent’s northeastern coast, and its west coast was home to one of the most striking heat waves last year, with a memorable summer temperature peak of 49.6°C recorded in British Columbia, Canada.

Professor Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary-general, emphasized that the findings highlighted that “even well-prepared societies are not safe from impacts of extreme weather events.” In other words, the report should make Europeans think it could happen to us, with “it” being devastating floods on the scale of what Pakistan and Bangladesh recently experienced, or the hunger-inducing droughts afflicting Madagascar and the Horn of Africa. While some may find it dismal that human beings remain relatively unmoved by the plight of other human beings considered too distant or too different, this is a part of human nature to reckon with. And reckoning with it can turn a sentiment of shared vulnerability into an opportunity for the planet.

Climate negotiations have repeatedly floundered on the unwillingness of rich countries to pay developing countries loss and damages to fund their transitions to greener energies and build crucially needed climate adaptability to limit deaths. Underlying such a position is a centuries-old smug belief that Europe and North America will never need to depend on solidarity from other parts of the world. The WMO report calls into question such hubris, as did the Covid 19 pandemic before that.

The distribution of global pandemic deaths ignored existing country vulnerability assessments and dealt some of the heaviest blows to the best prepared countries in the world. Europe and North America, where barely 15% of the world population resides, accounted for more than half of COVID deaths. Turning the normal direction of disaster statistics upside down, high- and upper-middle-income countries accounted for four out of five Covid deaths globally. While some scientists still pose questions over the real death toll in low-income countries, I was grateful to not live in the West during the pandemic. In Burkina Faso, Kenya and Senegal where I spent most of my pandemic months, I often encountered “COVID refugees,” young Europeans who had temporarily relocated to work remotely from Africa to escape pandemic despair at home.

We are at a point in our failures to fight climate change where fiction writers and other experts of human nature are often more useful than scientists in indicating what our priorities should be. Many fiction writers have turned their focus on what will be necessary for humans to remain humane as societies crumble. Before we get to that stage, let us hope that political leaders and delegates keep remembering that climate disaster could very concretely befall them personally at any time. Let us hope that the sense of equal—or more cynically, unpredictable—vulnerability instills a sense of global solidarity and a platform to negotiate in true good faith. Let us hope that we can start talking to our children again about what we adults are doing to avert the disaster that looms over their futures.

This post is from a partnership between Africa Is a Country and The Elephant. We will be publishing a series of posts from their site once a week.

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The Specter of Foreign Forces in Haiti

The so-called ‘Haitian crisis’ is primarily about outsiders’ attempts force Haitians to live under an imposed order and the latter’s resistance to that order.

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What actually happened on the nights of October 6th and 7th, 2022, remains unclear. What reverberated was the rather loud rumor of the resignation of Haiti’s acting prime minister  Ariel Henry. He was a member of President Jovenel Moïse’s pro-US Pati Ayisien Tèt Kale (PHTK) party. (Moïse was assassinated in July 2021.) Had Henry truly resigned? Or was it just a well-propagated rumor? Could it have perhaps been both at the same time: that Henry might have indeed resigned but had been coerced to stay, thus making the news of his resignation spread like gossip that the governmental communication machine had fabricated for public consumption?

Nevertheless, we witnessed the following the next day: in Henry’s address to the nation, he first requested the intervention of foreign military forces in Haiti. He then made a formal request to the United Nations. This call was picked up by international organizations, particularly the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres. In the media coverage of the events, no relationship was established between the (rumored) resignation of the de facto Prime Minister and his request for military intervention. Was it a way to keep our minds occupied while waiting on a response from the international community? Or was the military intervention a promise made by the international community to Henry for the withdrawal of his letter of resignation?

Media coverage has seemingly obscured what happened on October 6th and 7th by choosing to focus solely on the request for military intervention, obscuring a chain of events in the process. Was the same request addressed to the UN and the US administration? Or were these two distinct approaches: one within a multilateral framework and the other within a bilateral framework? Supposing it was the latter, what does this tell us about the Haitian government’s domestic policy, about US foreign policy toward (or against) Haiti, or even about geopolitics (as part of a white-hot world order)—especially in light of US Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols’ visit to Haiti, his ensuing meetings, and the presence of US Coast Guard ships in Haitian waters?

At least one thing’s for sure. Since the request for formal intervention and the presence of the US in the form of its warships and its emissary, the question of military intervention has been swiftly framed as a discourse on the supposed “consensus between Haitians.” In reality, it refers to the convergence of interests between the representatives of the de facto Haitian government; the representatives of the Montana Accord (agreed on between civic and political groups in the wake of Moise’s assassination); and the president, Fritz Jean, and prime minister, Steven Benoit, agreed on as part of that accord. The message is clear: If you do not want a military intervention, side with Ariel Henry, who initiated the request himself. Any posture of self-determination must undergo review by Ariel Henry and his crew.

In these circumstances, there can be no self-determination. It is as though those truly responsible for the military intervention (which was already underway) aren’t those who asked for it, but rather those who were unable to thwart it by finding an agreement with the former group. In this sense, the “nationalist” label (the current catchall term which, among other things, is being made to include any praxis refuting the colonial apparatus) refers to doing everything possible to avoid military intervention—and that means doing exactly what the representatives of the “Colonial Capitalist Internationale” want.

American presence in Haiti—in the form of warships and a high-ranking emissary—takes after historical colonial endeavors such as the Napoleonic expedition for the reestablishment of slavery (1802) and King Charles X’s fleet, sent to demand ransom for Haiti’s independence (1825). Yet, in this case, the point is not to put pressure on those who hold the keys to institutions, but rather to avoid losing control in a context where those in government are not only misguided, but also display the greatest shortcomings in managing the lives of the population for the better. The US’s current presence thus more closely echoes the language of the English warship HMS Bulldog, sent to shell the city of Cap Haitien to support President Geffrard against the anti-government insurrection of Salnave.

The Henry government uses the same grammar as its tutelar powers to discuss the current situation. Much has been made of “efforts deployed by the United States and Canada”: they have consisted in flying police equipment into Haiti on Canadian and US military cargo aircraft. Henry and the Haitian National Police offered warm, public thanks for material paid for with Haitian funds some time ago; indeed, these deliveries have come very late, and only thanks to pressure from Haitian civil society actors. More problematic still, the presence of foreign military planes at the Toussaint Louverture Airport in Port-au-Prince has served both as evidence of an ongoing military intervention and as a subterfuge to obtain such an intervention.

This request for intervention, while it seeks to obfuscate this fact, nevertheless exposes the political illegitimacy of the Henry government—made up of members of Henry’s PHTK and former members of the opposition. Its illegitimacy doesn’t rest on the usual discussion (or lack thereof) and confrontation between the governors and the governed, nor on the classic power play between the political opposition and the authorities in place; rather, it is the result of the absolute rejection on the part of Haitians of an order controlled and engineered by the PHTK machine in Haiti for over 10 years with one purpose in mind: defending the neoliberal interests and projects of the Colonial Capitalist Internationale. The request for intervention reveals the fact that the rejection of the PHTK machine is but one part of a broader rejection of the neoliberal colonial order as it has manifested itself in various anti-popular economic projects, which themselves were made possible by many attempts at reconfiguring Haiti socially and constitutionally: consider, to name but a few, the financial project of privatization of the island of Gonâve, the referendum to replace the 1987 Constitution, and others.

For the first time since the US military intervention of 1915 (the centenary of which was silenced by the PHTK machine), we are witnessing a direct confrontation between the Colonial Capitalist Internationale and the Haitian people, as local political go-betweens aren’t in a position to mediate and local armed forces (whether the military, the militias, or the armed gangs) aren’t able to fully and totally repress unrest. In this colonial scenario—drafted in the past five years, maintained and fueled by the geopolitics of “natural disasters,” epidemics, pandemics, and the presence of gangs (simultaneously functioning as the armed extensions of political parties and materializing “disorder”)—the only possible solution to chaos is military intervention by foreign forces.

Yet one cannot pretend that such an intervention will help the Haitian people, and no agreement crafted in the language of the colonial system can stifle popular demands and aspirations which, in the past twelve years, have built what Haitian academic and activist Camille Chalmers calls a real “anti-imperialist conscience.”

What of late has breathlessly been labeled the “Haitian crisis” must instead be identified as the highest point of the contradiction which has brewed throughout the PHTK regime: between the International Colonial Capitalists’ will to force us to live under an imposed order and our resistance to that order.

This post is from a partnership between Africa Is a Country and The Elephant. We will be publishing a series of posts from their site once a week.

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