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From newsdesk@igc.apc.org Thu Jun 8 10:49:40 2000
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 20:19:11 -0500 (CDT)
From: IGC News Desk <newsdesk@igc.apc.org>
Subject: POLITICS: Haiti's Woes Just Keep on Multiplying
Article: 97818
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
X-UIDL: edbce98dbbea1e86ab9532ce5a4d1f9d

Haiti's woes just keep on multiplying

By Ives Marie Chanel, IPS, 6 June 2000

Port-au-Prince, Jun 6 (IPS)- One would have thought that holding democratic elections in Haiti would have gone a long way toward solving some of the country's political problems. One would have been very wrong.

It appears that the staging of legislative and municipal elections on May 21 has only served to exacerbate Haiti's political woes. Indeed, the signs that problems were ahead were there all the time, what with the violent run-up to the polls, the opposition's deep distrust of the government's intentions, the quarrel between the president and the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) over the actual voting date and a host of other concerns about the logistics of the polls.

Now the opposition is contesting the results of the first round of polling. On Monday the parties said the first round of voting was so riddled with fraud that it was impossible for them to take part in the second round scheduled for the end of the month, and formally withdrew their candidates.

According to information made available to IPS they expect their members on the CEP to resign as well.

All of this does not look good for the staging of presidential elections at the end of the year. A failure to hold the presidential race could, in turn, cause the retroactive annulment of the May 21 polls.

Each day, the spectre of Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation, going into a Constitutional crisis becomes more and more likely. According to the Constitution, President Rene Preval must resign when his term ends in February, if he fails to hold elections on time.

If the elections are not held and Preval demits office, the president of the Supreme Court would end up heading a provisional government in accordance with constitutional law.

And with the political opposition here adamantly maintaining first round fraud, a dark cloud seems to hang over this Caribbean country's political future.

There are innumerable factors which militate against the establishment of political order here: ongoing social and political unrest; a battered economy; violence; and threats and sanctions from the international community. To add to these larger concerns are the government's inability to set up a permanent electoral council, the more recent opposition decision to boycott the second round of elections and official failure to properly certify the election results.

The opposition's cry of foul is not the only one being raised in Haiti. The Organisation of America States'(OAS) observer mission issued a warning May 31 to the CEP and the government that the vote count was flawed.

In a letter to the CEP, OAS Ambassador Orlando Marville, who is also the head of the observer mission, warned that there is a serious error in the way the votes were counted, and if it is not rectified, it could put the validity of the entire election process in jeopardy.

The mission maintains that the way percentages were calculated and attributed to each of the candidates was seriously flawed, and that some seats were incorrectly awarded to parties after first round balloting. The error in question was spotted by OAS mission members when they checked percentage calculations which, Marville said, were not carried out according to electoral law provisions.

The OAS says the CEP was supposed to have based its calculations on the sum of the votes of the fewest number of candidates having obtained the most votes. As a result, the percentages published by the CEP's director of operations are incorrect, the mission says.

According to the revised OAS calculations, the Lafanmi Lavalas (Family Lavalas) Party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide is indeed ahead in all of Haiti's departments, but in many of them a second round of voting will be necessary.

The CEP's results found that Lavalas had won 16 of 17 Senate seats in the first round of voting. But OAS calculations show that only seven Lavalas senatorial candidates had got a clear victory in the first round.

In a Sunday evening statement broadcast over state-run television, Macajoux Medard, the public relations chief of the Electoral Council took issue with the OAS.

Referring to Article 167 of the Electoral Law, which defines the role of observer missions, Medard said that Marville had overstepped the bounds of his role in criticising the election count. He reaffirmed the CEP's confidence in the counting procedures used by its electoral operations technicians.

The leaders of Aristide's Lavalas party, however, have put the CEP on notice that they will not accept any re-evaluation of election results already published.

It would be a very serious blow to the dignity of the Haitian people, who chose peace by voting en masse for Lavalas movement candidates, declared Yvon Neptune, the party's spokesman and one of the CEP's newly-proclaimed senators on Friday.