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#3703: OAS Interim report on electoral process (fwd)




From: Mary Durran <durranmary@hotmail.com>

Here follows a summary of the OAS' EOM's interim report on the electoral 
process.  If you wish to receive the entire report by attachment, please 
contact oeapress@yahoo.com



The Legislative, Municipal and Local Electoral Process in Haiti
Interim Report of the Electoral Observation Mission
of the Organization of American States
May, 2000

Executive Summary

The following is an interim report of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission 
in Haiti.  The Mission arrived in late February and established an office in 
Port-au-Prince and five regional offices.  The observations and conclusions 
in this report are based on numerous interviews with the different actors in 
the process and first hand observations.

Despite many setbacks over the last year, the Mission report concludes that 
the CEP has accomplished the major tasks necessary to succesfully conduct 
legislative, municipal and local elections, scheduled for May 21, 2000.  In 
order for these elections to take place, however, the Government, electoral 
institutions, political parties and civil society must each assume their 
responsibilities and work closely together.

The report notes the many delays in this process have had a  deleterious 
effect on the campaign.  The failure of the CEP to respect its deadlines and 
its lack of middle management caused operational problems, which negatively 
affected the its image of professionalism.  Additionally, the Governmentís 
role in these delays has led some to question its commitment to the timely 
and transparent conduct of these elections.

In this interim report, the Mission reiterates its conclusion that most of 
those eligible voters who wished to register were able to do so.  The report 
details the many problems of this process, including a lack of 
communication, transportation and materials.  In addition to registration, 
the report analyzes other important electoral preparations completed and 
pending.  It notes that candidate registration was successfully completed 
with some 29,500 candidates registering for an estimated 7,500 positions.   
The CEP has also completed the identification of the 11,238 Bureaux de Vote. 
  As of May 17, however, there was growing concern that many of these 
polling sites had not been well identified or may not be as close to the 
registration center as stipulated in the electoral law.  The uncertainty of 
the exact location of the polling centers could cause crowd control and 
logistical problems on Election Day.

Some political parties allege that their candidates for poll workers have 
been excluded.  The Mission is conscious that the exclusion of certain 
political parties from the composition of the BVs could cause undue 
suspicion and uncertainty on Election Day.  While the law requires an 
equitable distribution of party representatives at the BVs, the Mission 
believes that the objectivity of the poll worker is more important than his 
or her political affiliation.


Among the pending tasks, the training of the BV workers was unnecesarily 
delayed by one week following the decision of the CEP to change the format 
of the tally sheets even after training had already begun.  The Mission also 
expressed concern about the distribution and security of the electoral 
materials.

The OAS report reviews how a crisis developed in the Grande Anse as a result 
of a struggle between two political tendencies for control of the electoral 
apparatus in the department.  While it appears that much more could have 
been done at an earlier date, the Mission believes that the current 
political solution can provide the framework in which the citizens of this 
department can exercise their franchise on May 21 with the rest of the 
country.

The report also expresses the EOMís grave concern about the numerous violent 
incidents during the campaign that have created a climate of fear and which 
could threaten voter participation.  The Mission regrets that the Haitian 
National Police did not do more to stop the violent incidents, particularly 
the aggressive demonstrations that took place from March 26 to 28 in 
Port-au-Prince and the arson attack on the Espace de Concertation 
headquarters on April 8.

The present electoral situation has also illustrated the fragility of 
progress observed in recent years in the domain of liberty of the press, 
according to the Missionís observations.  The report sets out a worrying 
toll of violations of these freedoms, including the murder of Jean Dominique 
and threats and intimidation against journalists during the electoral 
campaign. Journalists from Radio Vision 2000 in hiding, an AFP photographer 
forced to hand over a film of road blocks in La Saline to the thugs at the 
barricades and correspondents in GonaÔves threatened by an anonymous flier 
are some of the violations of press freedoms documented in the report.  The 
Mission also applauds the efforts made by private sector media to educate 
the public about the issues at stake in the absence of an official civic 
education campaign.

The Mission reiterates the key role of national observers in these 
elections, but at the same time expresses its concern regarding the numerous 
problems of finances and internal divisions facing the National Observation 
Council. The report encourages the CEP to continue the process of 
accreditation of observers before polling day, and allow them access to 
electoral offices nationwide. Moreover, it is of vital importance that the 
CEP communicates directives on this matter to the BECs and the BEDs and 
ultimately to the BVs.

Despite all the difficulties observed, credible legislative, municipal and 
local elections are still possible in Haiti on May 21, the report concludes. 
  It is now incumbent on political parties, civil society, the media and the 
Government to work together towards this common goal.

With this goal in mind, the Mission included the following recommendations 
in the interim report:

∑	The CEP should facilitate communication with the departmental and communal 
bureaux to clarify any uncertainties that might arise;

∑	The CEP should ensure an adequate system to re-direct voters in cases 
where polling booths have been moved away from the original registration 
stations;

∑	Political parties must take on an important role in prevention of violence 
and avoid making premature declarations regarding the result of the vote;

∑	The Government and the Haitian National Police must assume their 
responsibilities in the provision of security during the polling, the 
transport of ballots and the vote tally in the BECs and BEDs;

∑	All sectors should respect the rights of journalists to carry out their 
work without intimidation or violence; the media must also exercise 
objectivity and independence in its reports;

∑	The electoral authorities must allow national observers access to 
observation; in turn, the latter must report their findings free of bias.

As it has since its arrival, the EOM offers its good offices to achieve the 
common goal of peaceful and transparent elections that accurately reflect 
the will of the Haitian people.


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