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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06PORTAUPRINCE124
2006-01-18 20:00:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

HAITI ELECTIONS: FEBRUARY 7 ON TRACK, WITH BUMPS

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  KDEM  PKAO  HA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO5103
RR RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #0124/01 0182000
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 182000Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2096
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0904
RUEHWN/AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN 1455
RUEHKG/AMEMBASSY KINGSTON 1940
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 2407
RUEHBH/AMEMBASSY NASSAU 2637
RUEHSP/AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN 1593
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 0738
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO 0325
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0237
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC 0351
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0786
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 PORT AU PRINCE 000124 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
DRL
S/CRS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA (BEN-YEHUDA)
TREASURY FOR JEFFREY LEVINE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PKAO HA
SUBJECT: HAITI ELECTIONS: FEBRUARY 7 ON TRACK, WITH BUMPS
IN THE ROAD


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 PORT AU PRINCE 000124

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
DRL
S/CRS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA (BEN-YEHUDA)
TREASURY FOR JEFFREY LEVINE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PKAO HA
SUBJECT: HAITI ELECTIONS: FEBRUARY 7 ON TRACK, WITH BUMPS
IN THE ROAD



1. (SBU) Summary: MINUSTAH and OAS officials in a January 13
meeting with donors explained that while some significant
problems need to be resolved, the February 7 first round is
technically possible. Political party complaints about the
number of voting centers and voting center assignments have
increased in recent weeks, as has pressure to finalize the
location of voting centers for the violent Port-au-Prince
slum of Cite Soleil. According to the Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP) and MINUSTAH, most voting center problems
should be fixed by January 18, and all remaining problems,
including Cite Soleil voting centers, must be solved by
January 25 in order to maintain the February 7 first round.
MINUSTAH worried that continued CEP and interim government
plans to transmit results by satellite (VSAT) could
jeopardize the credibility of elections results because the
VSAT results would not be monitored by the international
community. The OAS estimated January 17 that it had
distributed 2.6 million ID cards. OAS chief Elizabeth Spehar
reiterated, however, that in order to maximize voter
participation and minimize claims of exclusion, the CEP and
interim government must allow voting with registration
receipts. MINUSTAH logistics chief Colonel Barry MacLeod
plans to conduct a mock election on January 28 to test
procedures. The exercise will include distribution of
elections materials, ballot collection, and a test of the
MINUSTAH tabulation center. According to MINUSTAH elections
chief Gerard Lechevallier, MINUSTAH faces a budget shortfall
of USD 500,000 to conduct the first and second rounds of
national elections, but does not have sufficient resources
to conduct local elections, currently planned for April. End
Summary.


2. (SBU) Voting Centers
--------------

CEP General Director Jacques Bernard said January 6 that the
CEP must settle all issues relating to voting centers by
January 25, allowing MINUSTAH Electoral Task Force Head

Colonel MacLeod sufficient time to assure security and
delivery of election materials to each voting center.
MacLeod reported January 13 that MINUSTAH and the CEP would
fix nearly all of voting center problems by January 18 and
would identify remaining issues by January 20, which it would
fix by January 25.

Bernard has decided to locate all Cite Soleil voting centers
on the periphery of the slum in order to better ensure
security. MacLeod said on January 13 that he awaited the CEP
and MINUSTAH selection of these locations to finalize
logistics planning. MINUSTAH elections chief Gerard
Lechevallier countered locating the centers outside of Cite
Soleil could spark violent protest and claims of exclusion by
the international press. He said MINUSTAH would wait one or
two weeks and then attempt to open card distribution and
prepare for voting in Cite Soleil. However, MacLeod argued
that MINUSTAH must accept that it does not control Cite
Soleil and concentrate on voting outside the slum as the only
feasible solution.

Key Dates

January 20: All voting center problems identified
January 25: Voting center problems (including Cite Soleil)
addressed

Comment: Political parties have shifted their elections
criticisms from the ID card distribution to voting centers.
Though the parties make general accusations that voting
center problems are widespread, none have cited more than
anecdotal evidence of problems. Because MINUSTAH logistics

PORT AU PR 00000124 002 OF 004


needs time to integrate new voting centers into its logistics
plan, Lechevallier does not have time to wait two weeks to
see if MINUSTAH can secure Cite Soleil. Some radio stations
in Port-au-Prince are discussing voting outside Cite Soleil,
but MINUSTAH and the CEP should publicly announce their
decision to keep voting outside of Cite Soleil and clearly
and transparently explain their reasoning to distrustful Cite
Soleil residents and the skeptical international press. End
Comment.


3. (SBU) VSAT and Tabulation
--------------

Bernard reported January 6 that the Minister of the Interior
claims to have distributed satellite (VSAT) antennas to all
of the BECs for results transmission. However, the BECs lack
electricity and computers to run the VSAT system and CEP
president Max Mathurin wrote a letter January 11 to the UNDP
asking that the UN repair generators at the BECs and provide
computers for the VSAT system. UNDP said the UN would not
financially support the VSAT system because it believed the
project too costly and likely to fail, as it did in
Venezuela, Afghanistan, and Canada. Canadian elections
expert Francois Montour said he believed if the VSAT system
is finished it could be used to alter or invalidate the
results of the election.

Comment: Though donors and UN agree the VSAT system should be
stopped, they lamented that it is Haitian funded, and there
is little the international community can do apart from
withholding its own money. However, in a January 10 draft of
a letter to Minister of Interior Paul Magloire, the CEP
outlined its plan to implement the system, which relied on
international money and technical assistance. Nonetheless, a
Canadian diplomat said Canada plans to make every effort to
stop the system so that it cannot taint election results.
End Comment.


4. (SBU) ID Distribution Progresses, Voting without IDs Still
Key
-------------- --------------

Though the OAS said January 13 it has the capacity to
distribute up to 340,000 cards per day, card distribution is
going more slowly than anticipated, roughly 100,000 cards are
distributed per day. MINUSTAH projected January 17 that 2.6
million of the 3.5 million total ID cards had been
distributed, but said that because of reporting delays from
the field they can only confirm 2.4 million. The OAS plans
to close card distribution January 21, and reopen it from the
communal election bureaus (BECs) January 25. However, OAS
elections chief Elizabeth Spehar said January 13 that the CEP
had not yet agreed to the plan to continue distribution from
the BECs.

Though ID cards are now in Haiti, Spehar cautioned that some
voters would inevitably fail to retrieve their cards. She
said voters must be able to vote with their receipts.
MINUSTAH reported that the poll worker-training program
anticipates voting with receipts. However, while voting with
registration receipts is already technically legal, losing
political parties would likely exploit ambiguities in the law
to contest results if receipt voting is widespread. CEP DG
Bernard has drafted an amendment to the electoral law making
it absolutely clear that voting with registration receipts is
legal. The IGOH should promulgate the amendment in order to
avoid confusion and prevent contestation.

Key Dates:


PORT AU PR 00000124 003 OF 004


January 21: End of ID Distribution Extension
January 22 - 24: Undistributed IDs to BECs
January 25: Card distribution reopens in BECs
February 6: Card distribution closes in BECs

Comment: Card distribution is well in hand and has ceased to
be the focus of election complaints. Maintaining
distribution at the BECs should help voters to get the last
cards out and prevent criticism that some voters could not
retrieve their IDs. Nonetheless, in order to ensure maximum
participation, voters must be allowed to vote even if they
have not picked up their IDs. After card distribution has
closed, post will push the IGOH to clarify the legality of
voting with receipts. End Comment.


5. (SBU) Election Dry Run Will Test Logistics
--------------

MINUSTAH elections Electoral Task Force Head Colonel MacLeod
reported that MINUSTAH would use the distribution of
non-sensitive material to test the logistics system in late
January. During the test, MINUSTAH will distribute the
non-sensitive material along with mock sensitive material.
It will then run an election with Muppet character
candidates, collect the ballot boxes, and test the results
transmission and counting systems. MacLeod said he would
attempt to complete the test run and fix any logistics
problems with the system before any sensitive material is
sent to the voting centers.

Key Dates:

January 16 - 25: Sensitive Material to MINUSTAH Departmental
Military Compounds
January 28 - 29: Test of Elections Logistics
January 30 - February 5: Non-sensitive material to voting
centers
February 5 - 7: Sensitive material to voting centers

Comment: While MacLeod's test run is important and
necessarily short given the elections timetable, compressing
it into two days is overly optimistic. In the same meeting
that MacLeod presented his plan, MINUSTAH elections chief
Lechevallier warned that it could take three to five days for
all elections results to arrive in Port-au-Prince because
some results might have to travel by donkey from otherwise
inaccessible areas. MINUSTAH must be careful not to let
their test interfere with the election timetable, but should
nevertheless use the demonstration to raise expectations
about the security of the vote while lowering them about the
speed of results transmission. End Comment.


6. (SBU) Election Budget Okay for First and Second Rounds
-------------- --------------

MINUSTAH elections chief Lechevallier reported that with no
additional changes, the first and second rounds, including
the delay to February 7, would cost USD 59.6 million and that
MINUSTAH had received USD 59.1 million leaving a USD 500,000
shortfall. However, Gerardo said privately that he continues
to juggle money because MINUSTAH plans to hire more guards,
people for crowd control, and civic education workers. He
also said he is trying to keep some money aside in case the
CEP decides to fold municipal elections into the second
round. He said local elections would cost an additional USD
13.6 million.

Comment: Privately, MINUSTAH contacts tell us they do not
believe local elections are possible. MINUSTAH has no money
for local elections and though the problems with voting

PORT AU PR 00000124 004 OF 004


centers are passable for the national contest, voting center
assignments would require a complete overhaul for the local
elections. Local elections will likely be indefinitely
postponed for budgetary and logistical reasons. Post
recommends the mayoral election be included with the second
round in order to preserve local independence from the
executive and promote democratic state decentralization. End
Comment.

CARNEY