PORT AU PRINCE - The OAS-CARICOM Joint Electoral Observation Mission has observed through the 201 observers that it deployed throughout the country that the second round of the presidential and legislative elections was quite an improvement in many ways on the first round. The political climate of Election Day was in general more peaceful despite the friction and incidents of violence that took place during the last days of the campaign.
The measures adopted by the Provisional Electoral Council to address the major organizational failings and shortcomings of the first round did have positive results. The problems related to the accuracy of the electoral registers and to the difficulties experienced by voters in finding their polling stations were far less prevalent. It is however clear that more work needs to be done with regard to the correctness of the voters lists. However, the intensification of the sensitization campaign on “Where to Vote” as well as the other mechanisms put in place was successful.
The improvements of the second round were tarnished by logistical problems which delayed the commencement of the vote in West Department in particular. The operations of sixty Voting Centres were affected by errors in the delivery of the electoral kits and the sensitive voting material. Among other items, ballots, indelible ink and ballot boxes were missing. The observers also noted several instances where legislative ballots were sent to the incorrect locations.. The rapid response of the MINUSTAH mitigated a situation which could have degenerated and facilitated the resumption of voting in the affected Voting Centres around 10.00am. The Provisional Electoral Council took the decision to extend the period of voting for an extra hour in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area to give voters the opportunity to vote despite the late start.
Another positive point noted by the observers related to an improved organization in the majority of the polling stations they monitored. This was due to the improved performance of the electoral agents and to the proactive role of the Haitian National Police (HNP). This contributed to a more orderly and effective voting process, especially in the Voting Centres where there were a high turnout. In a number of Departments, the observers signaled also an improvement in the performance of the supervisors and the poll workers, particularly in the better protected locations. The observers also noted the presence of “facilitators” in more than half of the polling stations monitored, but they were not always easy to identify. The late publication of the list of “facilitators” no doubt reduced a wider presence of the agents who played a useful role in bringing off the elections.
The reports of the observers also reflected a positive change in ensuring the security of the day of elections. The action of the security forces was better coordinated, better targeted, and their response more rapid. In this regard, the HNP, in coordination with the military and police units of the MINUSTAH, were far more proactive in preventing disruption of the electoral process, addressing incidents of violence as well as in improving crowd control. Despite these efforts, several incidents of violence tarnished the day of the vote. The Mission deplores these incidents wile saluting the rapid reaction of the HNP and the MINUSTAH.
The Mission also observed problems limited to areas where the friction between candidates for the Lower House took the form of ballot stuffing and voter intimidation. Nevertheless, these incidents were isolated and did not reflect the reality of the electoral process observed nation-wide.
The voter turnout appeared to have been slightly higher that what was observed during the first round. It however did not meet the expectations raised by the high number of voter requests for information during the “Where to Vote?” campaign.
The treatment of the results sheets (PVs) started earlier this morning at the Vote Tabulation Centre (CTV). The Mission has established a team of observers and specialists trained to monitor this process. The Mission will have a continuous twenty-four hour presence in order to monitor the tabulation and verification processes as well as the implementation of the recommendations made by the OAS mission on the verification of the tabulation. The observers will monitor the tabulation procedures in order to determine if the criteria set out in the CTV Manual posted on the CEP website are being applied consistently.
The Mission wishes to remind that up until the proclamation of the final results on 16 April, and in accordance with Article 122.2 of the Electoral Law, any public demonstration in favour of a candidate is formally prohibited. Accordingly, the candidates have the responsibility to call on their supporters to await peacefully the results of the second round of the elections.
The Mission reiterates that the candidates have the possibility of recourse to the legal mechanisms provided by the Electoral Law in order to submit their grievances during the two levels of the electoral tribunals following the publication of the preliminary results. The Mission will also monitor this phase of the electoral process.
The JEOM welcomes the serenity and civility displayed by the Haitian people which contributed to the generally peaceful second round. This contributed to the country’s democratic practice as well as to the credibility and legitimacy of the electoral process.