|Sunday, 28 November 2010 10:42|
Today, Haiti heads to the polls and CEPR's Alex Main, who has been in Haiti all week with delegates from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, TransAfrica Forum, and other organizations, will be providing reports throughout the day. The delegates are observing events surrounding the elections, including the police and UN response to any protests, possible voter boycotts, voter access and participation levels. This space will be updated throughout the day with on the ground reports so please check back frequently, or follow Relief and Reconstruction Watch on Twitter.
The electoral observation mission headed by the Organization of American States and Caribbean Community postponed a news conference it had scheduled in the afternoon. Colin Granderson, the chief of the observer mission, said it was still analyzing information from observers and would make a statement Monday.
UPDATE 10:52 PM: AP is reporting signs of concern from the international community:
The United Nations said that it "and the international community expressed their deep concern at the numerous incidents that marred the elections." The chief OAS/Caribbean Community observer, Colin Granderson, added that observers were "in the process of evaluating and analyzing the information gathered on the conduct of the vote."
UPDATE 10:49 PM: Deutsche Presse Agentur reports:
DPA also reports:
One foreign journalist said he saw the head of a polling station open ballots before placing them in the ballot box in the Cite Soleil neighbourhood.
UPDATE 9:13 PM: The Globe and Mail reports on the political conflict between the 12 presidential candidates and thousands of frustrated Haitians, on the one hand, and the CEP, on the other:
“The CEP is comfortable with the vote,” council president Gaillot Dorsainvil said, deepening the standoff between the government and its opposition, a rivalry that was magnified in the streets of the capital.
The Globe and Mail also quotes IJDH's Brian Concannon on what could be done to rectify the situation:
“They could appoint a new electoral council, reopen registration for candidates and hold another election in four or five months,” Mr. Concannon said. “It would be expensive but we are essentially financing this election and we want it to be a good election.”
UPDATE 6:44 PM: The Financial Times' Benedict Mander has a new article citing Alex on an incident of a voting center trashing in Carrefour, and on voter turn-out. The article, headlined "Haiti poll denounced as ‘massive fraud’", also includes this comment from the OAS:
“We’re looking at the best elections possible under the circumstances,” Albert Ramdin, Organisation of American States assistant secretary-general, who is in Haiti to monitor the elections, told The Associated Press. “We know that the [voter] list is not complete. We know that the list is inflated. We know that much more needed to be done to be on time in terms of training of polling station workers.”
UPDATE 6:25 PM: Don't go to USAID's Twitter page if you're looking for information on any of the numerous and widely reported irregularities, protests, or violence today, or the exclusion of political parties, or calls for election cancellation by 12 of the presidential candidates. If, however, you want to see photos of what appears to be a well-organized, orderly, and calm process, USAID has that, as well as information on how USAID "is spending $14 million to support elections in Haiti today."
UPDATE 5:43 PM: Reuters' Joseph Guyler Delva and Pascal Fletcher are reporting that at least two people were killed in election-related violence today, and a polling station "trashed" by would-be voters who did not find their names on the voter lists. Reuters:
Voters' frustration at not being able to cast their ballots due to organizational problems at many polling stations in the capital Port-au-Prince boiled over into street protests.
Citing what they said was an effort by the party of President Rene Preval to stuff ballot boxes and turn away voters who did not support Mr. Preval’s chosen candidate, the [presidential] candidates called for protests if the election was not canceled.
Nearly all the major candidates in Haiti's presidential election called for Sunday's election to be voided amid allegations of fraud and reports that large numbers of voters were turned away from polling stations throughout the quake-stricken country.
UPDATE 2:16 PM: Reuters reports that "twelve out of the 18 presidential candidates in Haiti’s elections on Sunday demanded the vote be canceled, alleging widespread fraud." Reuters notes that this is a "serious blow to the credibility of the United Nations-supported elections."
Most polls opened an hour or more after their 6 a.m. start time. Confusion reigned at many: Observers from dozens of parties crowded voting areas and furious voters were turned away from stations where poll workers could not find their names on lists.
UPDATE 1:11 PM: In Carrefour, close to epicenter of earthquake, at voting center located at Ecole Nationale de Merger. Everything is calm here though we are told that participation is fairly low. No big complaints from any of the political party election witnesses. Talk to group that's sitting in the shade and they say that they've voted. But they know many people who came to vote but didn't find their names on the official list and headed back home. I ask a young man why he's decided to vote and, like many other voters I talk to, he says: so that things change. Back in car we hear that some of the presidential candidates are about to hold a press conf and announce that, because of massive fraud, elections need to be annulled.
UPDATE 12:58 PM: Agence France Presse reports on MINUSTAH head Edmund Mulet’s rosy view of the elections so far:
"In general everything is going well, everything is peaceful," Mulet, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH which is helping to police the elections, told AFP.
AFP reports, however, that
Mulet said there had been some "minor incidents" in the northern city of Desdunes.
And the Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles just Tweeted: “At least one person killed, maybe 3 so far in #haiti #election day violence.”
People waited in long lines on Saturday to pick up new or replacement identification cards, and many people said they had already endured a confusing odyssey to apply for them.
The Times also noted that the U.S. Ambassador admitted some serious problems with the electoral process yesterday:
“You have people who are registered to vote in their old neighborhoods but living somewhere else,” the ambassador, Kenneth H. Merten, said in an interview on Saturday. “I’m not sure that all of them know where they have to go. We will see tomorrow.”
Reuters reported this morning:
At the Alexandre Petion high school in Port-au-Prince, electoral workers were still arranging the desks and urns half an hour after polls were officially due to open at 6 a.m. . The voters list and ballot papers had not yet arrived, the workers said.
And the Miami Herald’s Charles described incidents yesterday including:
In the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville, government workers walked out at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, leaving dozens of disgruntled voters at the window with no cards.
UPDATE 12:12 PM: Ecole nationale de Thor in Kafou: fairly quiet. 50 or so ballots in boxes except one that appears to be stuffed. Some folks who aren't on lists.