OAS Approves of Electoral Process Despite Admitting Numerous Irregularities and Violence; CBC Urges More Caution
Tuesday, 30 November 2010 11:32
After cancelling a press conference set for Sunday evening, the OAS-CARICOM Joint Observation Mission announced their preliminary findings yesterday. There was a long list of irregularities on election day that echoed numerous media reports and what was witnessed by foreign observers, such as CEPR's Alex Main, including:
- late opening of Polling Stations
The mission also noted that "There were also deliberate acts of violence and intimidation to derail the electoral process both in Port-au-Prince and the provinces." Yet despite this, the mission reached the conclusion that "the Joint Mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as they were, necessarily invalidated the process."
- inability of many voters to find the correct Voting Centre and/or Polling Station;
- inability of voters to find their names on the electoral registers posted up outside the Polling Stations;
- saturation of the call centres overwhelmed by callers seeking where to vote;
- instances of incorrect application of voting procedures ( the signing of the ballots by BV Presidents before the arrival of the voter);
- instances of voter manipulation – repeat voting of some voters facilitated by complicit poll workers and unidentified party agents;
- the lack of control of already limited voting space by the poll workers , as well as the indiscipline of many mandataires, led to clogged polling stations where control of the process became tenuous and facilitated misconduct.
However, as The New York Times reports, the U.S. Embassy response was more cautious, noting that the OAS-CARICOM statement was "part of a process and we are currently consulting with our partners in the international community to better understand the details of what the observers saw nationwide.”
Meanwhile, 10 members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, who were in Haiti for the election, called on the U.S. to withhold support of the election until further investigations are carried out. The statement continued:
[W]e have serious concerns about reports that thousands of voters were unable to cast ballots, several instances of which we observed, and more severe allegations of outright fraud. The call by 13 presidential candidates to annul the election results raises profound questions about the validity of these elections. The government of Haiti, aided by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), must thoroughly investigate charges of ballot box stuffing and other attempts to manipulate the results and must determine whether fraud indeed took place and how it may have affected the results.
Although the group acknowledged the importance of having a new administration when Preval's term ends in February, the group warned that:
But we cannot be so eager to declare these elections a success that we prematurely pass judgment on whether they were indeed conducted in accord with international standards.
"The example of Kenya in 2007, taught us that premature declarations of valid elections can be counterproductive, undermine stability and lead to violence and political conflict, as well as call into question the legitimacy of the democratic process. We urge the U.S. government, the OAS and the UN to give full consideration to the charges of fraud and abuse and to await the result of any investigation before passing judgment on the conduct of Haiti's elections. And we urge all candidates and the Haitian people to resolve their concerns in a peaceful manner.