WASHINGTON, DC - The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) and Chairman of the Haiti Task Force in Washington, DC, Ambassador Albert Ramdin, has responded to concerns about the credibility of the presidential elections scheduled to take place in Haiti next month.
The OAS and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have mounted the largest-ever Joint Electoral Observation Mission for the November 28th poll in the earthquake-torn country. Concerns have been expressed about Haiti’s ability to hold the elections, as well as the transparency and credibility of the process, given the slow pace of recovery following the January 12th earthquake.
The OAS second in command says the decision to go ahead with the elections was taken by the Haitian government in accordance with constitutional provisions. “These elections have been organized by Haiti’s own Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). The international community is providing the requested technical support. Haitians themselves are in charge of holding this election.”
As to concerns that the elections will be neither transparent nor credible, Ambassador Ramdin responded by saying, “The OAS is aware of the concerns expressed by the political parties and the candidates. However, we are encouraged by the current efforts of the CEP toward public information and education. It is important to note as well that a simulation exercise of the day of the election and the operations of the Tabulation Center was held with representatives of political parties and the CEP present.”
The OAS Assistant Secretary General also welcomed the decision by several political parties and candidates to revise a planned boycott of the elections, and participate in the process.
Also of note to the OAS is the strong surge of Haitians seeking identity cards in August and September to secure their right to vote. Some 4.7 million Haitians have been registered to vote, with 187,000 persons being placed on the electoral list upon registration over the past two months.
The OAS Assistant Secretary General also believes that the presence of the Joint OAS-CARICOM Election Observation Mission, domestic observers and party polling agents should go a long way in contributing to credible elections. The OAS says the main focus is now on a peaceful election campaign and in the distribution of the ID cards to Haiti’s Office of National Identity (ONI). Following the distribution of cards, those registered must be mobilized and sensitized to collect their ID cards on time.