[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#3812: Post Election Report of International Coalition of Independent Observers (fwd)


International Coalition of Independent Observers

Date:  May 22, 2000
Contact:  Melinda Miles, Quixote Center, haiti@quixote.org or (301) 699-0042

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.

The International Coalition of Observers includes delegates from Haiti 
Reborn/Quixote Center, Global Exchange and Pax Christi. The Coalition is 
available for comments. Spokesperson Melinda Miles can be reached  for 
after May 24 at Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center, PO Box 5206, Hyattsville, MD 
20782. (301) 699-0042, haiti@quixote.org.