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July 13, 2000

OAS CHIEF OF MISSION REPORTS TO PERMANENT COUNCIL ON HAITI ELECTIONS

The OAS Permanent Council met today to hear the preliminary report of the Chief of the Electoral Observation Mission in Haiti, Orlando Marville, on the recent legislative, municipal and local elections held in that country. The OAS Mission observed the electoral process in Haiti from February through July 7, 2000, when it suspended its activities two days before the second round of elections, citing serious irregularities in the calculation of senatorial results.

Ambassador Marville categorized the May 21st first round elections as "the high point of the electoral process" and "a great success for the Haitian population" which, according to the report, voted in large numbers in an atmosphere of relative calm and absence of intimidation.

However, Ambassador Marville expressed the Mission’s concern about a number of serious irregularities which, in the case of legislative elections in particular, compromised the credibility of those elections. Marville cited the calculation of the percentages of votes obtained by the senatorial candidates as the most grave irregularity which occurred during the electoral process, since it violated both Haiti's Constitution and electoral law and resulted in 10 senatorial races being erroneously decided in the first round.

Speaking on behalf of the Government of Haiti, Foreign Minister Fritz Longchamps responded to the critique of the Provisional Electoral Council's (CEP) method of calculating the senatorial results, and emphasized that his Government had made every effort to hold credible elections. Various member state delegations voiced their support for the work of the OAS Mission and echoed the Mission's concerns regarding the elections, and the senatorial results in particular. At the same time they expressed their desire to remain engaged with Haiti in this difficult situation and underscored the important efforts undertaken by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to find a solution to the post-electoral problem.

Following the discussion the OAS Secretary General, CÚsar Gaviria, emphasized that the Organization would continue to assist in the consolidation of democracy in Haiti. The Secretary General stated that the Organization of American States would engage the cooperation of the member states, and interested organizations, such as CARICOM and the UN, to find a lasting resolution to the electoral crisis.

The Chairman of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Valter Pecly Moreira of Brazil, and other member country ambassadors expressed their appreciation of the report of the Chief of Mission, as well as the information provided by Minister Longchamps. There was consensus among the member delegations on the critical need to ensure that democracy is strengthened in Haiti and that the Organization continue examining this issue.

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