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#3528: The OAS EOM's Report on the Haitian Elections (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>
What follows is most of the report from
the OAS Electoral Observation Mission (OEM) in Haiti.

The tables summarizing the registration statistics
for each department are omitted because I could not
reconstruct them as I converted and retrieved the file.

According to the OAS, the registration phase was a
success -- in spite of real difficulties - in that 3,959,571
voters were registered out of a total potential voting
population of 4,245,384 or 93.27%.


May 2000

Through its Regional offices and through on-site visits, the
OAS Electoral Observation Mission has visited Departmental
Electoral Offices (BED), Communal Electoral Offices (BEC)
and Registration Offices (BI) in the 9 departments of the
country. Mission observers have visited 133 of the 135 BECs
in the country.

According to the statistics provided by the Provisional
Electoral Council (CEP), 3,959,571 voters registered from a
potential voting population of 4,245,384, or 93.27 percent.
OAS observers have confirmed these figures in offices of the
BECs and the BEDs. It is the opinion of the Mission that
registration has been adequately completed.

The Mission draws this conclusion based on the following

1) the high percentage of registered voters relative to the
estimated voting population;

2) the fact that, in general during the last two days of
registration, the BIs were open, but few people requested voter
cards; and

3) the overall satisfaction expressed by the political party
representatives and other actors in the electoral process.

One political party has taken the position that there is an
important number of Haitians who have not been able to
register. However, they have been unable to cite numbers or
provide documentation supporting this contention.

The process was not without fault. Demand for the new
electoral card was great and electoral authorities were not
always able to meet this demand. Nonetheless, the arrival of
new materials and the extension of the voter registration period
until March 19th allowed a great majority of the estimated
voting population to eventually register to vote.

While the Mission believes that a large majority of voters has
registered, it is difficult to exactly quantify the percentage. In
almost every department observed, the voting population
estimates appeared to be low. (Hence, the initial shortage of
registration materials and the temporary cessation of
registration throughout most of the country.) At the CEP’s own
admission, some voters have registered more than once,
which would inflate the percentage of those registered vis-a-vis
the estimated voting population. It does not appear, however,
that duplicate registration was planned on a nationwide scale.
In the opinion of the Electoral Mission double registration does
not, therefore, appear to be a major problem.

The voter registration process was fraught with administrative
and logistical difficulties. When new materials arrived at the
BEDs in early March, they often were not distributed to the
BECs or the BIs in a timely fashion due to a lack of adequate
transportation. Communication was also problematic. When
the CEP decided to extend voter registration from March 15th
to March 19th, no official notice was given to the BEDs or the
BECs. The electoral authorities in the field all heard about the
extension through the media.

Because of the closure of many BIs early in the process, an
undetermined number of voters registered in places other than
their residences. It is not clear whether or not these voters
know that they must vote where they register which could cause
confusion on Election Day. These voters may believe they have
been excluded from the voter registry when in fact they are
included on the list in the location where they registered. The
Mission believes it would be appropriate for the CEP to
address this issue through public announcements leading up to
the election.

In addition, for the first time, a high number of BIs were
grouped together in electoral registration centers, obliging the
CEP to create corresponding BVs in nearby geographical
locations. This has in many cases, particularly in urban
conurbations, resulted in logistical difficulties in that it has been
difficult for the CEP to find suitable sites for the BVs, which
require more physical space than the corresponding BIs.

Another difficulty in the process has been the CEP’s tardy
payment of the salaries of the BI workers. In many locations
discouraged and skeptical BI workers observed erratic
opening hours in the bureau, lengthening in some locations the
long lines of voters waiting to register. Towards the end of
registration, some BI workers held on to registers as a means
of exerting pressure on the CEP to pay them, and contributed
to the CEP’s delay in pronouncing a final registration figure. In
the most extreme case, frustrated unpaid BI workers attempted
to set fire to the Port-au-Prince BEC at the end of registration,
causing minimal damages.

Despite the difficulties in registering, the BIs managed to
eventually register almost everyone who sought a voter card.
Demand was particularly high on March 14th and 15th when
the voters believed that registration would end. On the last two
days of voter registration (March 18th and 19th), OAS
observers witnessed many offices with materials that were
idle, indicating that citizens, who wanted to register, already
had their electoral card. The Mission believes that the
registration period has been completed adequately and lays
the foundation for competitive Legislative, Municipal and Local
Elections in Haiti.

Department of the West (Port-au-Prince Regional Office)

Visits were made to all twenty (20) communal electoral offices
(BECs) in the area observed by the Port-au-Prince Regional
Office. Communal electoral offices in Delmas, Pétionville, Port-
au-Prince (3 offices), Carrefour, Grand-Goave, Gressier,
Kenscoff, Leogane, Petit-Goave, Anse-a-Galets, Arcahaie,
Cabaret, Cornillon, Croix-des-Bouquets, Pointe-a-Raquette,
Thomazeau, Ganthier, and Fonds Verettes were visited in a
two-week period.

Late openings of registration offices were commonplace
throughout the period with some of the BIs opening as late as
March 16th. In metropolitan Port-au-Prince, numerous
problems caused BIs to open one to three weeks late. Training
of the BI workers seems to have been too short, as there was
widespread misuse of film due to poor understanding how the
cameras function.

Of note were the reported threats from registration office
workers, BEC supervisors, and owners of registration locales
to impede the process if they were not paid. Electoral workers
and others have repeated the threats in many of the BECs
visited. On March 24th, BI members protested non-payment at
the BECs of Port-au-Prince and Carrefour. In the commune of
Gressier, the BEC officials and the National Police had to
respond to numerous incidents in which registration materials
were being held until payment of rent. While these incidents
were resolved peacefully, they bode ill for Election Day if the
CEP does not pay its creditors on time.

There were reports of fraud in seven of the 30 BECs visited.
One of the cases was substantiated and systematic while the
rest of the incidents were not wide ranging and generally
affected only one BI. The most serious case was in Petionville
where the two head BEC officials of that commune were
replaced after being implicated in widespread registration
fraud. Other incidents include the burning of 206 registers in
the commune of Petit-Goave. The arson was carried out the
same day as the delivery of the materials to the BEC. This is
suspect because during past elections all material was stored

at the local police station. The materials were eventually
replaced by the BED, which caused the BIs of the commune to
open more than three weeks late. The other cases reported to
the Mission involved irregularly registering small numbers of
people or a few voters registering twice.

Demand for voter cards did not meet the rhetoric of some
political parties. Most communes reported that few people
complained about not being able to register and OAS
observers witnessed shorter or no lines as March 19th drew
nearer. The one exception to this observed by the Regional
Office was the neighborhood of Cité Soleil where there was
heavy demand to register on March 18th. According to the
Delmas BEC, the communal electoral office responsible for
the area, Cité Soleil received more than twice the anticipated
number of BIs and additional registers to meet the demand.

Department of the Southeast
(Port-au-Prince Regional Office)

The Port-au-Prince Regional Office was also responsible for
visiting the BED and BECs of the Southeast. The communes
of Jacmel, Les Cayes-Jacmel, Marigot, La Vallee, Bainet,
Cotes de Fer, Belle-Anse, Thiotte, Grand Gosier, and Anse-a-
Pitre were visited over a two-week period.

The BED President spoke often of the many problems
encountered throughout the process but repeatedly said he felt
those problems could easily be overcome with a basic
education campaign, both for the elections workers and the
general population. He believes that often people focus too
much on the negative and not enough on the positive.

He has visited all of the BECs in the department and says he
does so, not looking for problems, rather he is looking for
solutions. All of the BECs confirmed his visits. It should be
noted however, that the Southeast BED passed instructions to
its BECs to conserve registers and not open new ones unless
there was sufficient demand. The BED President explained
that this was done so as to not "misuse" [sic] resources on
Election Day and have one BV with only 10 or 15 voters. The
only commune where these instructions seemed to have an
impact was Anse-a-Pitre where the BEC stated that they had
stopped people from registering based on the BED
instructions. They could not provide an estimate of how many
people were turned away. They insisted it was not very many.

Departments of the North and Northeast
(Cap Haitian Regional Office)

OAS observers have visited all 32 communes of the
departments of the North (19 communes: Bahon, Bas-Limbe,
Borgne, Cap Haitien, Dondon, Grande Riviere du Nord, L’Acul
du Nord, La Victoire, Limbe, Limonade, Milot, Pignon, Pilate,
Plaine de Nord, Plaisance, Port Margot, Quartier Morin,
Ranquitte, and St. Raphel,) and Northeast (13 communes:
Capotille, Caracol, Carice, Ferrier, Fort-Liberte, Les Perches,
Mombin Crochu, Mont Organise, Ouanaminthe, Sainte
Suzanne, Terrier Rouge, Trou du Nord, and Vallieres,).

The observers noted that overall, the members of the BEC
seem to have a comprehensive knowledge of the electoral law.
However in several cases, they have been lax in enforcing the
electoral law in relation to crimes committed during the
registration process.

Most of the officials in these communes estimated that they
have registered nearly all of the eligible voters in the country.
No instances of electoral related violence were reported during
the final week of registration. A number of incidents occurred
during the registration process in both of the departments
observed by the Cap Haitian Regional office.

In Fort Liberté, Department of the Northeast, there has been no
BED president since the end of January. In the commune of
Ounaminthe, Northeast department, a BI member was
attacked and wounded by two OPL supporters angry over the
opening of only one registration office in their area. In the
commune of Trou du Nord, political candidates from the CIFH
and the RDNP seized a pack of materials (trousse) from BI #2,
stopping registration for a day. That same day the trousse was
delivered undamaged, to the BEC of Trou du Nord by one of
the candidates. The candidate stated that they were not
notified of the opening of this additional BI and that is the
reason why he took the trousse. The President of the BEC
wrote a report to the Justice of the Peace and informed the
state prosecutor of the incident. No action has been taken to

In the commune of Caracol, a Famni Lavalas candidate
accused the supervisor of Jaxile neighborhood of assault. The
candidate reported the incident to the state prosecutor,
however, he failed to file an official complaint with the BEC of
Caracol, and thus no action was taken. None of the registration
officers in the North or the Northeast have been paid and many
have complained to the OAS observers. The BEDs in the
departments did not receive notification that registration had
been extended and they said that they learned of the decision
through the radio.

Department of the Grande-Anse
(Jérémie Regional Office)

The OAS observers in the Jeremie Regional Office have
visited all twelve communes of the department: Anse
d'Hainault, Abricots, Beaumont, Bonbon, Chambellan, Corail,
Dame Marie, Les Irois, Jeremie, Moron, Pestel, and Roseaux,.

The total number of registered voters in the Grande-Anse
Department is 196,865 of an estimated population of 206,800
(95.2 percent).

This is the final figure as reported by the Jérémie BED and is
less than their original figure that was explained as en error in
tabulation of the results by some of the BECs. Observers
report that registration was successful in 11 of the 12
communes in the department of the Grande-Anse, with the only
exception being the commune of Anse d´Hainault. They
reported that the electoral officers of the BED and the BECs
understand the electoral law and are applying it justly. Due to
the disturbances caused by the disqualification of the
candidate for mayor of Anse d’Hainault and the failure of the
police to guarantee security, registration in this commune did
not take place. (There are an estimated 14,800 eligible voters
in Anse d´Haisnault). No action has been taken against the
perpetrators of these actions.

Department of the Artibonite
(Gonaives Regional Office)

To observe the registration process in this department, the
EOM visited the 15 communes of the Artibonite: Gonaïves,
Gros Morne, St. Michel de l’Attalaye, Petite Rivière de
l’Artibonite, St. Marc, Verrettes, Marchand Dessalines,
L’Estère, Desdunes, Ennery, Anse Rouge, Marmelade,
Grande-Saline, Terre Neuve, and La Chapelle.

The BED reported a total of 580,975 registered in this
department, that is 91.77% of the electorate, calculated to be
633,065 at highest estimate.

Despite this high registration figure, the Secretary and the
Vice-President of the BED continue to insist to the EOM that
50% of the population were not able to register, although the
President maintains that all those who wished to register were
able to do so. Additionally, observers noted little activity in BIs
in the final days of registration.

The OAS reports that many registration officers did not fully
understand the electoral law. They accepted photographs not
taken by them and irregular ID documents. They did not usually
post the list of people registered. Completed registers were
not returned or collected by the supervisors. Anticipating the
end of registration on March 15, potential voters waited in very
long lines. Many people complained of making several trips to
the BI and spending several hours at the BI to obtain their
cards. At the extension of registration from March 15th to
March 19th, the BED received an additional 133 registers.
Registration closed formally on March 19th. The department
ceased registration in late February due to a lack of materials.
Some attribute the lack of materials to waste and-or theft while
others accused the BIs of exaggerating the shortage of
materials in order to register their friends. Registration
resumed on March 3rd upon the receipt of new registration
materials. Some communes such as Marmelade and Ennery
did not open until March 14th because the materials had not
been distributed from the BED to these BECs due to a lack of

On March 14th in the city of Saint Marc, operations at a BI
were interrupted by a group of Famni Lavalas supporters led
by mayoral candidate Rony Eugène. They alleged BI members
were registering voters without taking their picture. According
to the BEC, the BI members were simply photographing
people who had registered the day before but were unable to
complete their cards as the film had run out. Supporters of
Famni Lavalas demanded the arrest of the BI members on the
basis that they had broken articles 40 & 41 of the electoral law.
A judge subsequently ordered the arrest of the BI president
who was later released. The BI re-opened the next day with a
new staff.

On March 13th, PLB mayoral candidate in St. Marc, Jean
Hugues Narcisse was arrested when he verbally threatened
BEC officials while armed with a revolver. He was released the
same day.

Much scandal was made in February over the presumed loss
in the Artibonite of 226 electoral registers, as reported by a
CEP official, but denied by the BED. According to the UNDP,
there was no discrepancy in the inventory of materials to
indicate that 226 registers had been lost. However,
MOCHRENHA is not satisfied by the BED’s denial and
continues to demand that the CEP carry out a detailed
investigation into reports of this alleged theft. While neither
BED information nor UNDP statistics provide any proof that
these registers were stolen, MOCHRENHA maintains that
since early in the registration period, there was a pattern of
irregularities at the BED level.

These include an incident on February 26th when the electoral
authorities, local police and the justice of the peace confirmed
that a BI in Gonaïves was issuing electoral cards in a back
room away from the official registration process. Tet Ansamn,
a political party filed a complaint alleging that the BED
secretary had given his consent to the irregular preparation of
electoral cards for employees from the local bank and customs
office at the BED. The OAS Electoral Mission was not in place
in time to witness these alleged irregularities, but continues to
investigate the charges.

The BED reported that the late payment of BI members’
salaries had, as in other parts of the country, created
uncertainty in the registration process. In rural sections of
Petite Rivière, Ennery, and Marchand Dessalines, for example,
BI members threatened to withhold registers unless they were
paid. The BED however managed to persuade the BI
members to hand over the materials to the relevant BECs.

Department of the South and BED Nippes
(Les Cayes Regional Office)

OAS observers visited the eighteen communes of the
department of the South, Aquin, Arniquet, Camp-Perrin,
Cavillion, Chantal, Chardonniers, Coteaux, Ile-a-Vache, Les
Anglais, Les Cayes, Maniche, Port-a-Piment, Port-Salut,
Roche-a-Bateau, St Jean du Sud, St Louis de Sud, Tiburon
and Torbeck and the six of the region of Nippes in the Grande-
Anse, Anse-a-Veau, Baraderes, L’Asile, Miragoane, Petit Trou
de Nippes, and Petit Riviere de Nippes.

They reported that registration in both areas had proceeded
reasonably well. In the South, BED officials informed the
Mission that 340,053 out of a calculated 338,400 potential
voters had registered, thus making of the South one of the
departments whose voting population was underestimated.

In the area of Nippes, the final figure for registration reached
138,431 out of 144,800 potential voters.Registration finished
on the evening of March 19.

The president of the BED-South pointed out that of the 26
registers distributed to the BIs after registration was extended,
only one was closed with more than 100 entries; most of the
others had between 26 and 50 voters registered. Therefore,
the president estimated that, in the South, the only people who
had failed to register were those who did not wish to do so.

The OAS observers expressed concern about the persisting
confusion surrounding the number of registers received in the
South and the final number of BVs that will operate on Election
Day. According to the president of the BED, two or three
registers are still missing; consequently, as of April 25, the
registration figure transmitted to the CEP was still not final.

One of the difficulties holding up retrieval of registers was the
CEP’s failure to pay the BI members in a timely fashion upon
the completion of their work.  Members from two rural sections
of Les Cayes, who were at the commune’s BEC during the
core group’s visit to Les Cayes on March 24, refused to hand
over 16 registers until they were paid. Similarly, BI members in
Aquin held up 7 registers. Only in the first week of April were
the registers recovered.

BED-South officials reported to the OAS Mission that BEC
members in Roche-à-Bateau, Port-à-Piment, and Côteaux,
had been accused of being partisans of Fanmi Lavalas.
Supporters of the other candidates accused the BECs of
facilitating access to registration in areas known to be pro-
Lavalas, but being less helpful in areas where support for other
parties is strong. In addition, they claimed to have seen BEC
members participate in Lavalas campaign events. The
departmental electoral authorities that await a decision by the
CEP concerning these three communes confirmed both these

In Port-à-Piment, the polarization among political forces
resulted in a few heated demonstrations, which degenerated
into fights between supporters of the various candidates. In
February, FL supporters accused the MOCHRENA candidate
for deputy of attempted murder, and an OPL candidate
reportedly beat up a pro-FL BI member.

Department of the Northwest
(Port-au-Prince Regional Office)

The Chief of Mission, some Core-Group members, and the
Port-au-Prince Regional Office made visits to eight of the ten
communes of the Northwest department. Communal electoral
offices in Jean Rabel, Port-de-Paix, Baie de Henne,
Bombardopolis, Mole St.-Nicolas, Bassin Bleu, Chansoime,
and La Tortue were contacted as well as the BED in Port-de-
Paix. On March 17, the Chief of Mission, accompanied by
three other observers traveled to the Northwest Department.
They visited the communes of Port-de-Paix and Jean Rabel.

As of March 19, 208,880 voters had been registered.

During the Core-Group visit the UNDP electoral representative
for the area informed our delegation on the developments in
the region. He stated that additional materials for the extension
of the registration period had arrived in Port-de-Paix on March
2nd and were distributed on March 3rd. About 53 registers had

The only difficult area had been Jean Rabel, at once the largest
and most difficult commune in terms of communication. There
has not been any serious violence and the chief of police was
confident that he could provide security. Besides
communication, the BED and BEC employees complained
that they had not been paid.

Also on this visit, Caisnord BERTRAND, MOP candidate for
the Deputation of Anse-à-Foleur and St. Louis du Nord,
complained to the delegation that in some communal sections
where he was candidate, only supporters of a "certain sector"
had been allowed to register, and non-residents of some
communal sections had been bussed-in to register. He also
claimed that others had registered with false birth certificates.
Bertrand said he estimated between 1,000-2,000 non-
supporters of the ‘sector’ had been denied the right to register.
He and other MOP members present alleged that Jacques
Garcon, KOREGA/ESKAMP candidate for deputy, was
causing trouble, and buying people’s vote.

The Port-au-Prince Base returned on March 29th and again on
April 13th. The BED complained that the placement of the
registration offices by the CEP had been poorly planned and
limited access to voters who wanted to register. The BEC in
Baie de Henne stated that there was massive waste of
registration materials due to poor training of the BI members.
On the island of La Tortue, the BEC president reported that the

PLB candidate for senator had brought, by boat from the
mainland, 68 people to register in the neighborhood of Boucan
Guepe. Only thirty of the 68 registered as the BI ran out of
materials. A report was made to the BED concerning the

Department of the Center
(Hinche Regional Office)

In this department, observers have visited all of the 12
communes: Cerca La Source, Thomassique, Maïssade, Cerca
Carvajal, Thomonde, Boucan Carré, Belladère, Las Cahobas,
Mirebalais, Hinche, Saut d’Eau and Savanette. At the end of
the registration period, after receiving 80 supplementary
registers, BED officials estimated that 95% of the electorate
had registered.

As of March 19, 281,036 of 304,721 had registered, or 92.3

Observers noted, however, some problems with the functioning
of the BECs. Most lacked organization, the level competence
of their members varied greatly and radio communications
were poor. In addition, supervisors were unable to make daily
visits to BIs for lack of transport to cover the vast distances
involved. The Mission noted some of the most serious
problems in the BEC of Maïssade, where two BI members and
the BEC President were arrested for irregularly issuing 9
electoral cards, causing the closure of the BEC and BIs from
March 13th to 19th. The irregular voting cards were issued
when the BI involved had closed down as members had gone
on strike to demand payment of salaries. The BED president
maintained that the arrest was illegal and had been
manipulated by political parties. The BEC president was
released on 14 March.

The BEC was reopened in April; meanwhile the BED
president still considers disciplinary action to be taken in this
case. The OAS observers witnessed problems in Thomonde,
where on a visit to the BEC on March 13th, all members were
absent. In the commune of Boucan Carré, observers noted on
March 16th that no BIs were operating for lack of plastic cards.
In Mirebalais, observers noted the BEC had no radio or
telephone communication. In this commune, the most serious
irregularity noted was in the communal section of Désvarieux,
where the president of BI 621-04-06 closed the register at
#039 due to lack of film. When registration was started again,
the secretary noted the register had been used up to #054.
The matter was reported to the supervisor. Observers reported
that the political affiliations of the BI members seemed to be
quite varied and this had been a balancing factor in the region.

The most serious problems affecting the BIs in this department
was the CEP’s failure to pay salaries on time. Also, BI
members told the EOM that the training they had received was
inadequate. This resulted in a waste of an estimated 15% of
the electoral materials according to the BED president. He
stated that when the BI members started work most were
unsure of what they were doing.

The Mission understands that the estimated voting population
was calculated on the last census taken in 1982, with a
projected estimated increase in population. The Mission was
unable to obtain the exact methodology for this calculation. The
slight discrepancy between the CEP total registered figure and
that of the Mission is due to the revision of registration data at
the BED and BEC level after the last observation visits by the
Regional Offices.