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#3028: SICRAD's Latest Update on the Electoral Process (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>

HAÏTI-CORRESPONDANCE serie 2 / No 56 / 27 mars 2000 E-bdo d actualite 
haitienne et de perspective democratique et populaire

Elections : Standoff between Government and Election Commission

March 27, 2000

Monday in Port-au-Prince was full of commotion about the elections.
Demonstrations took place in many areas of the capital demanding
resignation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and for having
general elections at the end of the year. All morning groups from
various neighborhoods in the north and south of the capital claiming to 
be close to the Lavalas Family put up flaming barricades on the main
routes, blocking some traffic and business activities. Many merchants
had their stalls burnt in a market in a northern neighborhood of the
capital after a demonstrator was shot and wounded. The information has 
not been verified by the press.

"This fight won't end until the CEP has resigned," one demonstrator
said. The young people in charge of the movement are demanding reopening of voter registration, which officially closed on March 19. According to them many citizens of voting age didn't get a chance to get their electoral cards.

The demonstrators are also calling on President Préval to confront "the
bourgeoisie which with imperialism is opposing the Lavalas power" in
declaring a "symbolic embargo" against the country. The organizations
demand concrete acts to lower the cost of living so that the country can 
function normally.

A relative calm returned in mid-afternoon after the police, with
difficulty, cleared the flaming barricades. At the time of the
demonstrations a contingent of police came to beef up security at the
CEP headquarters whose activities were not disturbed. The members of the 
council were not inclined to accede to the demands made by the

Doubts and inconsistency

During the whole week doubts and inconsistency plagued the electoral
process. A date was not set for the coming legislative elections,
contributing to economic and social uncertainty.

According to a journalistic source the CEP is working to propose a new 
date for the first round and has declined to have the joint working
meetings with the executive branch that President Préval had proposed. 
The president of the CEP, Léon Manus, on March 24 contradicted this
report calling it "tendentious" and intended to sow discord between the 
two parties.

Altogether the executive and the CEP are at loggerheads, a confrontation 
that takes different forms at each stage. Each accuses the other of
blocking the process. The government and its allies criticize the faults 
of the electoral operation while the opposition parties and
international communtiy keep up the pressure on Préval, who shows no 
desire to see a parliament installed on June 12 of this year.

The difficulties

The president discussed in recent days with technical advisers of the
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the United
Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the CEP how to proceed with a
critical evaluation of the electoral process. Many problems were noted 
and the technical advisers think the CEP needs a certain amount of time 
to resolve them.

They are numerous and of all kinds. The evaluation that was done by the 
CEP at the demand of the executive has itself been questioned by the
technical advisers appointed by the CEP. The advisers say they weren't 

Also the electoral supervisors and the heads of the registration offices 
threaten to prevent elections unless they are paid. They also question 
the will of the CEP to have the elections. The president of the CEP has 
said that steps are being taken to pay them and asked them to be

The electoral supervisors have also said that the majority of the
population did not get their electoral cards. Registration data from all 
of the country are awaited. At the very least, registration did not take 
place in Anse d'Hainault, in the Grand' Anse department. The
departmental elections head Ernseau St-Clair said discussions were
underway to resolve this issue. He said this at a March 25 working
session of the CEP with the eleven departmental elections directors.

The government under cross-examination

The opposition continues to denounce the actions of the government. Suzy 
Castor, OPL senatorial candidate, deplored the fact that discussions
between the election commission and government had not yet yielded an
election date.

The international community stepped up the pressure a little. The
Americans said "it was time for the Haitian government to publish new
dates for the elections." This came from two visiting Clinton
administration officials last week.

Arturo Valenzuela, a special envoy of the president, and the State
Department's Haiti coordinator Donald Steinberg said, "Failure to
constitute a legitimate parliament risks isolating Haiti from the
community of democracies and jeopardizes future cooperation."

Republican senators were quicker to point the finger at the Lavalas
Family for seeking to bend the process in order to stay in power. Three 
senatorial candidates of this party, the former officers Dany Toussaint, 
Fourel Celestin and Medard Joseph were accused by the Republicans of
being drug-traffickers. These accusations were rejected by party
spokesman and senatorial candidate Yvon Neptune.

On the electoral question the private-sector groups on March 24 said the 
consequences of not respecting the constitutional date of June 12 for
installation of the Forty-seventh Legislature would be grave. The
businessmen were also convinced that the parties "should reach an
indispensable consensus to carry out their promises to the nation and
international community."

What Is in Store for "God's Children"?

The disturbances take place at a difficult time economically for the
population as the decline in the gourde raised prices by 25 percent.

Asked about the current situation leaders of the popular groups in many 
departments say the elections should be held as soon as possible. "The 
longer the elections are not held the worse the situation gets," said
Silmise, an activist in the Southeast Department. She asked the leaders 
to work as quickly as possible on behalf of the most unfortunate and
destitute. "If we have to wait for elections at the end of the year,
God's children will not survive," she said. Most people questioned have 
called for legislative and local elections separate from the
presidential. "That would be better for us," said Solange, a member of a
popular organization in the Artibonite.

These activists living in regions far from the capital said they "did
not understand" the differences between the CEP and the government that 
were keeping them from agreeing on an election date. Asked what would
constitute a blockage of the electoral process, Margarette and Yvonne of 
the Central Plateau department said it would be the desire of a
political party to "totally control parliament."

SICRAD - Service d'Information du Centre de Recherche et d'Action pour 
le Développement. Internet:
http://www.rehred-haiti.net/membres/crad/sicrad/. E-mail: