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#4136: HAITI'S WOES JUST KEEP MULTIPLYING (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
PORT-AU-PRINCE, (Jun. 6) IPS - Last month's elections in Haiti were
anticipated as a crucial step in solving some of the country's political
problems, but it now appears that the May 21 polls only served to
exacerbate the nation's woes.
Indeed, there were many signs of trouble, such as the violent run-up to
the voting, the opposition's deep distrust of the government's intentions,
the quarrel between the president and the Provisional Electoral Council
(CEP) over the election date and a host of other concerns about the
logistics of the polls.
Now the opposition is contesting the results of the first round of
voting. Yesterday, the parties said the first round was so riddled with
fraud that it was impossible for them to take part in the second round
scheduled for the end of the month, and formally withdrew their candidates.
According to information made available to IPS, they expect their
members on the CEP to resign as well.
All of this does not bode well for the staging of presidential elections
at the end of the year. A failure to hold the presidential race could, in
turn, cause the retroactive annulment of the May 21 polls.
Each day, the prospect that Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation, will
slide into a constitutional crisis becomes more and more likely. According
to the Constitution, Pres. Rene Preval must resign when his term ends in
February, if he fails to hold elections on time.
If the elections are not held and Preval leaves office, the president of
the Supreme Court would end up heading a provisional government in
accordance with constitutional law.
And with the political opposition here adamantly maintaining first round
fraud, a dark cloud seems to hang over this Caribbean country's political
There are innumerable obstacles to the establishment of political order
here: ongoing social and political unrest; a battered economy; violence;
and threats and sanctions from the international community.
Adding to these larger concerns are the government's inability to set up
a permanent electoral council, the more recent opposition decision to
boycott the second round of elections and official failure to properly
certify the election results.
The opposition's cry of foul is not the only one being raised in Haiti.
The Organization of America States (OAS) observer mission issued a warning
May 31 to the CEP and the government that the vote count was flawed.
In a letter to the CEP, OAS Ambassador Orlando Marville, who is also the
head of the observer mission, warned that "there is a serious error in the
way the votes were counted, and if it is not rectified, it could put the
validity of the entire election process in jeopardy."
The mission maintains that the way percentages were calculated and
attributed to each of the candidates was seriously flawed, and that some
seats were incorrectly awarded to parties after first round balloting. The
error in question was spotted by OAS mission members when they checked
percentage calculations which, Marville said, were not carried out
according to electoral law provisions.
The OAS said the CEP was supposed to have based its calculations on the
sum of the votes of the fewest number of candidates having obtained the
most votes. As a result, the percentages published by the CEP's director of
operations are incorrect, the mission said.
According to the revised OAS calculations, the "Lafanmi Lavalas" (Family
Lavalas) Party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide is indeed ahead
in all of Haiti's departments, but in many of them a second round of voting
will be necessary.
The CEP's results found that Lavalas had won 16 of 17 Senate seats in
the first round of voting. But OAS calculations show that only seven
Lavalas senatorial candidates had got a clear victory in the first round.
In a June 4 statement broadcast on state-run television, Macajoux
Medard, the public relations chief of the Electoral Council, took issue
with the OAS.
Referring to Article 167 of the Electoral Law, which defines the role of
observer missions, Medard said that Marville had overstepped the bounds of
his role in criticizing the election count. He reaffirmed the CEP's
confidence in the counting procedures used by its electoral operations
The leaders of Aristide's Lavalas party, however, have put the CEP on
notice that they will not accept any re-evaluation of election results
"It would be a very serious blow to the dignity of the Haitian people,
who chose peace by voting en masse for Lavalas movement candidates,"
declared Yvon Neptune, the party's spokesman and one of the CEP's
newly-proclaimed senators, on June 2.