The seating of a new legislature and the inauguration of a newly elected President signal that the legislative and presidential elections process has essentially come to an end. It is true, however, that there are still partial elections on 29 May 2011 in three constituencies and some remaining uncertainty concerning the formalization of the results of the 18 controversial legislative cases re-judged by the Special National Complaints and Challenges Bureau (BCEN).
The Joint OAS-CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission (JEOM), present in Haiti since 3 August 2010, is also coming to an end, its mandate and monitoring responsibilities completed with the coming into being of a newly elected executive and legislature. Being a long-term mission present in the 11 electoral departments of Haiti permitted the JEOM to monitor not only the election days themselves but also the various preparatory phases leading up to the elections such as voter and candidate registration and campaigning, as well as the post election phases, in particular the vote counting and the complaints process. The methodology of the JEOM emphasized coordination, dialogue and problem resolution through a close interface with all the stakeholders. Taking advantage of early warning on key issues, the Mission was proactive, drawing attention and offering recommendations to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to address the problems identified even as the process unfolded and not afterwards as is often the case. The JEOM also highlighted constantly the importance of respect for proper process and procedures provided by the Electoral Law for the success of the electoral process.
The JEOM holds the view that despite the disputes and crises that marred this protracted and challenging electoral process a number of positives need to be underlined. The technical and organizational improvements of the second round brought about by the technical staff of the CEP demonstrate that progress is possible. The efforts to resolve the crises that arose were based on technical and rule of law approaches and not political fixes. This approach has led to the reinforcement of the verification capacity of the Vote Tabulation Centre (CTV) and to greater understanding by the stakeholders of its functioning and the role it plays in the electoral process. That procedural approach has also led to greater appreciation and understanding of the workings of the BCEN. In fact, the link between the verification of the tabulation and the complaints process was proven critical in determining results that reflect the will of the people. As a consequence the electoral institutional and procedural capacity has been made more robust.
Carrying forward to future elections the lessons learned and the institutional and organizational improvements made during these presidential and legislative elections will reinforce the credibility, legitimacy and fairness of the next electoral processes and, therefore, contribute to the strengthening and deepening of democracy in Haiti.
It was an honour and a privilege for the Joint OAS-CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission to have been witness to what was certainly a difficult and contested electoral process but which in many ways was historic.
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