Peacekeeping – More Than What It Seems
By: Phil MacLellan
In 2006-2006 I was contracted by CANADEN, a civilian human resource organization, to go to Haiti as a policing/election expert to assist in the planning for the Haitian presidential elections. I was specifically asked to get the Haitian police more involved in the election. I ended up in a city called Miragoane.
The Chief of Police was a friend from my Haitian mission in 1995. We rekindled our friendship and immediately his officers were committed to the process.
Over the next months I ended up getting involved in the election – I reorganized the UN police patrols, trained the Haitian security guards, helped the UN election officer organize the distribution of the election materials, convinced the Uruguayan military to get their distribution of election materials organized, ran the UN Civil Affairs election databases which kept track of voting at the voting stations, plus more.
When the election was over the leading candidate had 49% of the vote. The runner up had 47%. 4% of the ballots were deemed to be invalid. The day after the vote count the country was in ruins because of the deadlock – property was being destroyed, UN offices being invaded and people were being killed. The evening after the count was finished a Haitian election official came to my hotel for a meal. She explained how upset she and her fellow countrymen were due to the deadlock and the rioting happening in the country. We chatted about fixes, but she was too shook up to come up with an idea. I told her the UN was never going to redo the election and the Haitian system had no way to redo the process.
I told her that if I were in charge I would take the 4% of voided ballots and split them evenly between the two candidates, thus giving the runner up 51%, making him the winner. After that I went to my room. The next morning I was at breakfast when the same lady came to me and said “Congratulations, you elected a president”. I was surprised to hear this. Overnight she called Port au Prince and told them my solution. They accepted the idea. With that, the winner got 51% of the vote and was declared the President.
When you are in any situation you have to step forward and contribute whatever you have, to move the project along. I can’t assume your knowledge of peacekeeping, however for those of us who did it passionately, simply to help a country, this is a lifetime dream. I did six peacekeeping missions, and also taught at the Mexican Federal Police Academy. I speak French, Spanish and German. It is my ethos in life that the skills we have are not to be guarded and secreted. To be true gifts they must be shared. I just had skills, education and training that permitted me to go a step further.
As far as links go the most important one is “www.canadem.ca”. It is CANADEM who sought me out for this mission and I would enjoy giving them credit for the opportunity. There are invariably lots of articles regarding the Haitian election of 2006 but most people would not even click on them for follow up.
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