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#3825: OAS EOM Haiti - Press Release (fwd)

From: Mary Durran <durranmary@hotmail.com>

Organization of American States

Electoral Observation Mission in Haïti

Press Release, 24 May 2000

Informal Translation

Initial reports gathered from over 200 international observers deployed 
throughout the country during Sunday’s polling indicate that the credibility 
of the elections is so far acceptable.

Despite the chaotic scenes witnessed in Port-au-Prince where ballots were 
dumped outside 3 communal electoral offices (BECs), the EOM has observed 
electoral authorities working to restore order and recover tally sheets of 
the count in the polling stations.  While this situation  represents a 
serious irregularity in the gathering of results, the Mission stresses that 
these ballots had already been counted.  The tally sheets of the count of 
these ballots in each polling station, and the copies of this document, 
should be able to establish the count without any need for a recount of 
ballots in the majority of cases.

Despite the fact that overall, the vote has gone well,  a number of serious 
irregularities including violent incidents marred proceedings in some 
locations.  The Electoral Observation Mission of the OAS believes that 
despite the gravity of these incidents, in most cases they will not 
necessarily have a significant influence over the outcome of the vote.  
Observers working with the OAS visited over 700  polling stations on 21 May, 
and  have been following up on reports of incidents in others from  
political parties and national observers.  The EOM considers that the 
presence of these important national actors, observed in a high number of 
polling stations has made an significant contribution towards the guarantee 
of transparency of the vote.

It is vital that the political party representatives and the national 
observers monitor the tallying of the results in the Communal and 
Departmental Electoral Offices and the Mission urges the Provisional 
Electoral Council and the Departmental and Communal Electoral Offices to 
provide access to these important groups.

The Mission has confirmed that in Maïssade, Central Plateau, armed 
candidates from several parties and a member of the judiciary destroyed 
electoral materials as they were being transported to the Communal Electoral 
Office after the count.   Also in this department, in the district of 
Hinche, an armed group stole ballots from 3 polling stations before the 
count was made, thus invalidating the vote in these polling stations.  A 
further serious incident was confirmed in Verettes, in the Artibonite, where 
a thus far unidentified group seized and burned electoral materials in some 
7 polling stations, stopping the vote.     In Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince,  
some five polling stations closed at 2pm, reportedly after armed attacks.   
Armed activity has also been confirmed in Bahon, North, where armed men 
burst into the BEC and burned the counted ballots of an unknown number of 
polling stations.

In the South, in Camp Perrin and Côteaux, ballots were stolen from one and 
four BVs respectively.  In Port-à-Piment, the BEC is functioning in the 
exclusive presence of members of Fanmi Lavalas.  On May 22, observers were 
not allowed access to this BEC. Neither have political party representatives 
been allowed access.  A similar situation has been reported, but not 
confirmed, on the Island of la Gonâve.

The Mission stresses that while these incidents are deplorable, they were 
isolated in nature, and can only affect the outcome of the vote in a small 
proportion of over 10,000 polling stations which opened on 21 May.

During polling, observers noted a  number of irregularities that the  EOM 
does not believe will influence the outcome of  the vote.   These include 
the late opening in most cases 1-3 hours late of a number of polling 
stations.  Despite this factor, observers did not note significant lines of 
disenfranchised voters at the close of the polls.  Also observed in a number 
of polling stations was a failure to respect the secret of the vote.  This, 
however, appears to be due to either poor training of poll workers, or 
cramped conditions of the polling stations rather than an intent to 
influence the vote.

The Electoral Observation Mission salutes the Haitian people for their 
determination to go to the polls and elect representatives.  The Mission 
encourages the Provisional Electoral Council to continue its efforts to 
facilitate the count of ballots throughout the country and the gathering of 
results in the communal and departmental electoral bureaux and thus permit 
that the will of the Haitian people be respected.

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