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#4299: OAS on the Grand'Anse Elections (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>
Organization of American States
Electoral Observation Mission in Haiti
Informal Translation
Port-au-Prince  June 16, 2000

Based on preliminary reports from the 21 observers who were
deployed throughout the department of the Grand?Anse for the
June 11 partial elections, the OAS Electoral Observation
Mission (EOM) considers that, despite certain irregularities
observed, overall the polling was carried out in an adequate
and professional manner. However, the Mission remains
concerned about the destruction on June 12 of counted ballots
and vote tally sheets, already delivered to the Communal
Electoral Office, for all the polling stations in the commune of
Les Irois. The Mission notes with satisfaction the Provisional
Electoral Council?s decision to re-hold legislative, municipal
and local elections in this commune.

The Mission?s observers were deployed in the majority of the
region?s communes several days before the vote. They visited
more than 180 polling stations located throughout the 18
communes of the Grand?Anse on election day.

After the vote count, the Mission?s teams followed the delivery
of voting materials by pollworkers to the Communal Electoral
Offices (BECs) in nine communes. Teams then observed the
compilation of results in the majority of the BECs.

The Mission had established a presence in the Grand?Anse
since the beginning of March in order to closely follow
preparations for these elections, considered vital to completing
the legislative, municipal and local elections on a national

The Mission congratulates the CEP, local electoral authorities,
the Haitian National Police and the Haitian Government for
their collaboration in establishing a climate of calm and
security throughout this department on June 11, which led to
the high turnout by Grand?Anse voters.

Apart from the serious incident which occured at the BEC in
Les Irois, several irregularities marred electoral operations in
the department. The Mission has confirmed that on Saturday
June 10 several pollworkers from the commune of Anse à
Veau were attacked while they were transporting election
materials to their villages and the ballots for eight polling
stations were stolen. None of the polling stations established in
the 5th section of this commune opened on June 11 following
this attack. The Mission has also verified that in the commune
of Dame Marie, during the night of June 11 after the vote tally
was completed, pollworkers for four polling stations were
attacked by armed men who stole all the counted ballots and
tally sheets. Counted ballots for local elections (CASEC and
ASEC) for another polling station in this commune were also
stolen on the same night. The Mission considers that these
incidents could have an impact on local election results, and
maybe on the results for other races in these two
communes.The Mission is currently investigating allegations
that a pollwatcher for a political party was beaten and then
kidnapped in an area of the commune of Jérémie which
borders on the commune of Roseaux.

Over the course of election day, the Mission?s observers noted
the high number of pollwatchers representing the major
political parties and independent candidates in the majority of
the polling stations visited. They also observed an even higher
number of national observers. However, in the communes of
Miragoâne, Barradères, Petite Rivière des Nippes, Anse à
Veau, Pestel, Beaumont and Jérémie, the Mission observed
that a number of the national observers wearing t-shirts
marked «CNO» or «KNO», the abbreviation for the National
Council of Electoral Observation, behaved as though they were
pollwatchers for various political parties.

In the commune of Barradères, the Mission?s observers saw
some «national observers» voting more than once. The
Mission understands that the Coordinating Office for the
National Council of Electoral Observation is investigating this
problem in order to find a solution.

In the town of Jérémie and the commune of Miragoâne, vote
tally operations were transfered from individual polling stations
to centralized locations, apparently for logistical and security
reasons. However, after the vote counts were finished in these
locations, it appears that vote tally sheets were not posted at
any of the individual polling stations. The Mission observed that
this transfer of vote tally operations, undertaken with
assistance from the police, was relatively well-organized and
the vote count was done in an orderly and calm manner.The
Electoral Observation Mission, which will maintain an office in
the Grand?Anse until the end of the electoral process, is
continuing to observe the compilation of election results in the
communal or departmental electoral offices.

The Mission commends the determination of the Grand?Anse
population to go to the polls to elect its representatives. It also
recognizes the enormous effort made by election officials at

the communal offices (BECs) of Miragoâne and Petit Trou des
Nippes, as well as by officials of the departmental electoral
office (BED) of Miragoâne, following the fires set in the
premises of the BECs in these two communes. Their efforts
made possible the holding of full elections in these areas on
June 11.

The Mission encourages electoral and police authorities, as
well as the Haitian Government, political parties, candidates
and civil society, to continue to play their part in order for the
electoral process to be completed in an atmosphere of peace
and tolerance. The Mission also encourages election officials
to continue to work in such a way that the compilation of
election results is carried out with the greatest degree of
transparency, this being fundamental to the credibility of these
elections and to guaranteeing that the will of the Haitian
electorate is fully respected.

For further information, please contact the Mission?s press
Ms. Hannah Taylor, at 511-5690 or 403-0219