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8171: It's the Senate results, isn't it? (fwd)

From: Tttnhm@aol.com

>From Charles Arthur - Haiti Support Group

The dispute over the results of the May 2000 elections in Haiti drags on and 

The Democratic Convergence coalition is sticking to its hard-line position 
that the ruling Lavalas Family must agree to re-run all the elections held in 

The European Union, the United States, and the Inter-American Development 
Bank continue to withhold aid to the central government until the dispute is 

Thanks to the Democratic Convergence's relentless propaganda, it is easy to 
lose sight of the salient issue - the disputed method of calculating the 
Senate election results. In this context, it is perhaps worthwhile reviewing 
the UN report prepared by Adama Dieng, the independent expert of the 
Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Haiti, as 
presented to the UN General Assembly, dated 28 July 2000. Adama Dieng's 
reports on Haiti over the years have been notable for their accuracy and 

He wrote:
"According to the statements and reports of various observers, the elections 
were held under optimal conditions of transparency and freedom with a rather 
high rate of participation in comparison with other elections held since 
1990. There were virtually no cases of police misconduct; no police officer 
was accused of preventing citizens from fulfilling their electoral duty. Some 
even claimed that the police had compensated for the failings of the CEP 
since, in some areas without electricity, the votes were tallied on police 
premises without any interference.

11. It is true that this situation led to complaints that the police had been 
politicized and even to accusations of illegal police interference. In the 
expert’s opinion, the conclusion reached by many observers was somewhat 
hasty. On the evening of 21 May, none of the observer missions had occasion 
to report the occurrence of large-scale fraud of such a nature as to affect 
the validity of the elections. Later, the opposition accused the Lavalas 
Government of using armed commando units and the National Police to violate 
the right of citizens to vote. They reported that ballot boxes had been 
stolen or replaced by other, previously-filled ones; that people had been 
intimidated with weapons but there had been no bloodshed; that votes had been 
counted without proxy supervision; that false documentation had been 
submitted; that ballots had been cancelled; and that candidates had been 
terrorized or detained.

12. This situation leads the expert to point out that election monitoring is 
not limited to election day; it must at least cover the period from the 
electoral campaign to the announcement of the provisional results. In any 
case, Ambassador Orlando Marville, head of the Organization of American 
States (OAS) technical mission, ultimately challenged the method of 
calculating senatorial seats used by the CEP. Since then, the controversy has 
focused on this arithmetical issue, which is of major importance in meeting 
the requirements of universal suffrage. The CEP nevertheless decided that its 
interpretation should prevail, supporting its position by referring to the 
method of calculating percentages used and accepted in the 1990, 1995 and 
1997 elections.

13. It therefore proclaimed the final results, which gave the majority of 
seats to the Fanmi Lavalas party. The opposition unanimously rejected these 
results and the OAS Electoral Observation Mission continued to maintain that 
the method of calculation used by the CEP for the senatorial elections was 
not in accordance with the Electoral Law. While acknowledging that the OAS 
position is well-founded, the expert recognizes the difficulty faced by CEP 
members in calculating the majority in the case of an election to fill one 
seat in a department where two or even three senatorial seats were to be 

14. They took the view that this method of calculation, which would 
invalidate the first-round election of a candidate for whom the entire 
electorate had voted, would reveal a certain weakness in the Electoral Law in 
cases where there was more than one vacant seat per department to be filled. 
In order to reduce to a minimum the bias resulting from ballot box stuffing, 
they decided, in the case of elections to two seats in one department, to 
calculate the total number of votes obtained by the four candidates with the 
largest number of votes, divide the total by two and determine whether any of 
the candidates had enough votes to constitute a majority on the basis of this 
calculation. Citing the 1990 and 1995 elections (in which none of the 
candidates had objected to the use of that method) as a precedent, the CEP 
decided that the "50 per cent plus one" rule for a first-round victory, 
established in the Electoral Law as applicable to the election of deputies, 
did not apply where there was more than one senatorial seat to be filled in a 

15. The expert considers that the CEP did not fully apply articles 53 and 64 
of the Electoral Law of 19 July 1999. The CEP "decision" was based more on 
equity than on law. Furthermore, it is clear from the CEP explanatory 
statement dated 30 June 2000 that "the CEP, as the sole authority vested with 
the power to apply the Electoral Law, made a good-faith effort to find a 
method corresponding as closely as possible to the spirit of the law". An 
appeals body, had one existed, would probably have reversed the CEP 
"decision" on the grounds that it was in violation of the Law..."

This email is forwarded as a service of the Haiti Support Group. 


The Haiti Support Group - solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for 
justice, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992.