Haiti looks ready to vote!!

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Michel Nau_

Haiti looks ready to vote!!

Post by Michel Nau_ » Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:05 am

As violence dropped slightly, officials scrambled to put the final touches to Haiti's elections today. But tension remained high as a former protégé of ousted President Aristide continued as the front-runner.

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Amid an uneasy lull in the gunfire and kidnapping that has dogged this capital for months, ballots arrived at voting centers on mules and trucks as the rugged, troubled country prepared for presidential and legislative elections today.

Election officials were still struggling to resolve last-minute problems in what has been a chaotic lead-up to the balloting. But the drop in violence was giving officials and observers a bit of hope that the election will be a peaceful one -- unusual for Haiti.

''All systems are go,'' said Gerard Le Chevallier, the chief of U.N. electoral assi
stance. ``This is going to be the best election Haiti has ever had.''

But tensions remain high, as they have since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled the country in the face of an opposition movement and an armed rebellion in 2004. Now a one-time protégé of Aristide, the former President René Préval, is the front-runner in the polls, and no one knows who might try to disrupt the election with violence.

Haiti's National Police has said armed groups in the capital, and in the politically tempestuous city of Gonaives, could pose a serious threat on election day.

And then there's the aftermath. Some analysts speculate that an outright Préval victory -- in which he gets more than 50 percent of the vote and does not have to go to a March 19 runoff with the second-place finisher -- could spark violent opposition.

On Monday, U.N. peacekeepers increas
ed patrols and checkpoints along roads around the volatile slum of Cité Soleil.

But by and large the teeming, overcrowded city was as tranquil as it gets. Schools were closed for security concerns. Downtown streets, usually choked with cars and fumes, were nearly wide open. People sauntered along sidewalks and sold fruit in booths along the Champs de Mars, the city's main square.

''I am quite certain we will have a peaceful process tomorrow,'' said José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, who arrived Monday to witness the election. ``Of course, you can never be sure completely.''

Jacques Bernard, head of the Haitian electoral council, tried to reassure the public that heightened security measures are in place, and to vote. ''We will remind every Haitian citizen that Haiti's destiny is in your hands,'' he said during
a news conference.

``Stand up and make your choice.''

Electoral observers and one critic within the council have raised some concerns, however:
• Some Haitians will have to walk miles to their voting centers because there are half the number of centers as in the last election, and because the system failed to register some voters at the center closest to their homes.

• The list of some approved 36,000 poll workers is still in flux as electoral officials try to rectify glitches, and possibly fraud, that resulted in 1,600 cases of names listed multiple times. There is fear that people could end up fighting over the jobs, which pay $50, a substantial sum in a country where the average person earns a dollar a day.

• More than 120,000 political party watchers have signed up for access badges to observe the voting. If that number showed up, there would be more than 10 observers and four poll w
orkers hovering over every polling station, creating pandemonium. Bernard said he will be compelled to limit the number of observers and party watchers to four at each polling station -- a decision bound to arouse hostility from those left out.
• Out of about 800 voting centers, 50 had to be relocated after many voters picked up their ID cards, which carry stickers telling them where to vote. The council has launched a radio and newspaper campaign to announce the changes.

Patrick Féquiere, a member of the electoral council who has been highly critical of the process, said he expects the biggest problems to be chaos caused by poor planning.

''I think that administrative flaws threaten the election more than fraud,'' he said. ``If [today], the people of this country don't accept the obstacles, then I am afraid it's going to be a big flop.''

Féquiere says perhaps 100 of the voting centers as of Monday were
still up in the air, because leases had not been signed with the building owners, or they had lapsed. Bernard said this is simply false -- that there were three or four instances where the owners demanded to be paid before they would allow election workers to enter, and that they were quickly compensated.

By 5 p.m. all of the ballots had been delivered to the proper voting centers. ''The real moment has arrived,'' Bernard said. ``Good elections are the only solution to save our nation.''

http://www.miami.com/multimedia/miami/n ... haiti2006/

Ezili Danto
Posts: 197
Joined: Sat May 31, 2003 11:57 pm

Eleksyon yo gate! The elections are ruined!

Post by Ezili Danto » Tue Feb 07, 2006 12:40 pm

Elektyon an Gate, the elections are ruined!!!

(Voices from the streets of Haiti, recorded by the Ezili Danto Witness Project, 12: 17 pm, Feb. 7, 2006)


Below is the initial report on today's Haiti elections, directly from people on the streets of Port-au-Prince, right this hour, courtersy of the Ezili Danto Witness Project:

Question: How are the elections going?

Ezili Danto journalist in from the streets of Haiti:

"There's no place for the people to vote. They've gone to vote and the voting places are not there – popilatyon an, yo pa gen kote. It's bedlam in the streets of Port au Prince, Gonaive and even in Jacmel, people trying to vote have died. People have died in running to get to in line. Some have suffocate, been trampled under foot. T
here's a large police, swat team presence in Port-au-Prince, police are shooting tear gas and arresting people trying to vote and the population is frustrated. Tensions are running hight, the people have registered to vote but there are no polling places where they can vote.

ELEKTYON AN GATE!!!! The election is ruined! It cannot be legitimate…but the people are still trying to vote. Where they are sending the people in Site Soley, is a like a pig park where the people can't even stand in the area, it stinks. There are goat droppings there, all over the ground. But all over Port-au-Prince people are trying to vote. There must be about 50,000 people in the streets, and they are not finding the places to vote….”


This is the initial reports from the streets of Haiti.

Translated from Kreyol by the Ezili Danto Witness Project, Feb. 7, 2006 at 12:18 pm

Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:21 pm

Huge turnout for Haiti election

http://www.miami.com/multimedia/miami/n ... haiti2006/
The people of Haiti have begun voting in the country's first elections since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in February 2004.
http://www.miami.com/multimedia/miami/n ... haiti2006/

Hours before the polls opened, queues of people waited to cast their votes in what is expected to be a high turnout. Thousands of heavily armed UN troops are watching over the election process, which has been delayed several times because of widespread unrest.
The UN says the election offers Haiti a chance to escape chronic instability. Polls opened at 0600 (1100 GMT) and are scheduled to close at 1600 (2100 GMT). Official results are expected on Friday. Voters are picking a new president as
well as a 129-member parliament.
The front-runners are Rene Preval, a former ally of Mr Aristide, and Charles Henry Baker, a businessman.

The country has been run by an interim administration since 2004.
'Away from violence' Some of Haiti's 3.5 million registered voters live some way from a polling station. The roads and transport are so poor in some areas that ballot papers and boxes had to be delivered by helicopters - and in some areas by mules. One man waiting at a polling station in the capital, Port-au-Prince, told the BBC that he had left his house in the mountains at midnight and walked for more than four hours to take part.
"I came to vote for my charismatic leader [Rene Preval] so that he can run my country," he said.
The BBC's Claire Marshall in Port-au-Prince says Haiti's poor majority believe Mr Preval is the only candidate who understands their misery.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sent a mess
age to Haitians ahead of Tuesday's poll, saying: "These elections offer an opportunity for your country to move away from violence and uncertainty towards a future of peace and stability." Despite the presence of peacekeepers, the country has continued to be blighted by political and criminal violence and instability.
Aristide loyalists
Former President Preval, 63, is a long-time ally of Mr Aristide who is popular with the poor. Mr Baker and former President Leslie Manigat are considered his closest rivals.

If none achieves a 50% majority first time round, the two best-placed candidates will compete in a run-off.
Mr Aristide was first elected in 1990, but within the year he was overthrown, and replaced by a succession of military governments. The US, backed by the UN, intervened in 1994 to restore order. In the elections that followed M
r Aristide was barred from standing, but Mr Preval, his close ally, took nearly 90% of the vote.
Mr Aristide later returned to power, but with allegations of corruption and vote-rigging accompanied by increasing instability and violence, he took a US flight in early 2004 to South Africa, where he remains in exile.
Mr Preval has told the BBC that Mr Aristide may return if he wishes, but that he will not tolerate the violent groups that pledge him allegiance.

Wealthier Haitians have expressed disquiet at the possibility of a president with echoes of Mr Aristide.
"The majority of the business sector has serious concerns about the idea of a new presidency by Preval, considering his past ties to Aristide," said Reginald Boulos, who heads Haiti's Chamber of Commerce.
http://www.miami.com/multimedia/miami/n ... haiti2006/

Story from BBC NEWS:

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