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#3807: Election Press Release, May 23, 2000 (fwd)

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

| Election Press Release, May 23, 2000
| International Coalition of Independent Observers
| The International Coalition of Independent Observers visited over one
| hundred voters bureaus (BVs) in three teams on May 21, 2000. Our
| overwhelming observation was that the people of Haiti mobilized in great
| numbers to participate in these local and parliamentary elections. We
| take this opportunity to report on certain concerns we had flagged
| during the process, as well as to offer our general remarks based on the
| extensive observation of our teams. Coalition teams observed in
| Carrefour, Carrefour Feuilles, Canape Vert, Turgeau, St. Marc, Cabaret,
| Croix-des-Bouquets, Delmas and several other locations.
| One concern the Coalition expressed prior to the elections was that
| registered voters would experience difficulties in finding the BV at
| which they were expected to vote. In several instances we did witness
| voters turned away from BV and BV staff unable to redirect them. But BV
| employees were overwhelmingly helpful, consulting with voters in line to
| be sure they were in the right location, and in the areas we observed
| most people seemed able to find their BV.
| The vast majority of BVs we observed received materials on time and were
| able to begin functioning with ample time to cast their ballots. Several
| BVs received their voting materials after a substantial delay. One
| location in Carrefour Feuilles received materials five hours late,
| forcing them to postpone opening until 12 noon. At least five hundred
| voters were lined up waiting while we observed the employees of the BVs
| making every effort to set up the bureaus according to the proper
| procedure. At this BV, as well as several others such as Carrefour and
| Petionville, employees were forced to find creative ways to set up the
| BVs in parking lots and yards. We were impressed with the efforts made
| by staff to insure privacy for voters and to follower the proper opening
| and voting procedures. Many of the employees we observed appeared to be
| insufficiently trained for their jobs, most likely owing to the hurried
| training process, but we were pleased to see the majority of BV staff
| working to cooperate with each other and uniting to create an acceptable
| voting environment.
| The Coalition was especially pleased to witness a large voter turn out,
| not seen since the 1990 elections. We also saw large numbers of voters
| registered at each of the bureaus we visited. We wish to express our
| continuing concern about voters in remote rural areas, and to point out
| that our delegation was unable to access these areas for proper
| observation. It is our impression that all of the international
| observation missions were spread out among more accessible areas, and we
| will look forward to the reports of national observers about the remote
| rural bureaus.
| It is our observation that voters were able to participate without fear
| in almost all locations we visited. The Coalition witnessed isolated
| incidents of non-violent intimidation at a few voter bureaus. Large
| numbers of voters were lined up beginning at 5am in anticipation of BVs
| opening at 6am. It was encouraging to see voters overcoming the rumors
| of intended violence and coming out to express their political will.
| At each of the sites we visited we met with observers from other
| organizations. Political party representatives, or mandataires, from the
| Espace de Concertation, OPL (Organization de Peuple en Lutte) and Fanmi
| Lavalas were present at as many as 95% of the bureaus we visited. The
| presence of these mandataires  was documented in each location we
| visited, as well as representatives from other parties (including:
| MOCHRENHA, RDNP, APPA, RCP, Tet Ansamn, PLB, and independent). In nearly
| 100% of the bureaus we also documented national observers from the
| National Council of Observers (CNO/KNO).
| The preliminary conclusion of the International Coalition of Independent
| Observers is that the Haitian people have mobilized in large numbers to
| express their political will through participation in the local and
| legislative elections of May 21, 2000. We were pleased to observe
| employees at voter bureaus working with each other to promote a secure
| environment and privacy for voting. Although late distribution of voting
| materials in several locations may have discouraged people from voting,
| we did witness lines of patient voters. It is not yet possible to gauge
| the number of voters who were unable to find their appropriate bureau,
| and we will await reports from the countryside. We were greatly
| encouraged by encountering a diverse group of national observers
| representing all segments of Haitian society, and we eagerly await
| reports from their observations.