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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09PORTAUPRINCE431 2009-04-24 19:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

HAITI ELECTIONS: CANDIDATES POSTURE AS RESULTS

Tags:   PGOV PREL KDEM ASEC HA 
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VZCZCXRO8795
PP RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #0431/01 1141906
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241906Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9870
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 000431 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/EX, WHA/CAR, S/CRS, DS/IP/WHA, AND INR/IAA
WHA/EX PLEASE PASS TO USOAS, USAID/LAC
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/23/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM ASEC HA
SUBJECT: HAITI ELECTIONS: CANDIDATES POSTURE AS RESULTS
TRICKLE IN

REF: PORT AU PRINCE 419

Classified By: Amb. Janet A. Sanderson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (SBU) Summary. Haiti's April 19 partial senate elections
were generally well-organized. Isolated incidents of
violence, intimidation and theft of voting materials, which
led to cancellation of the vote in one department and demands
to annul the vote in parts of another were reported. Voter
turnout was low across the country, especially in the
capital, and will probably not exceed 10 percent. The
election day prohibition of public transportation, confusion
as to where citizens were to vote, and fear in the face of
the Fanmis Lavalas boycott were the major factors that kept
many voters at home. Many candidates have already claimed
victory, although official results will not be released until
April 27. Given the multiplicity of candidates, runoff
elections -- to be held June 7 -- are a near certainty in a
nmber of Departments. Some Senators promise to refse to
seat newly elected colleagues due to low vter turnout and
the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas cndidates, which, if carried
out, could lead to a political showdown. End summary.

Election Organization: Fairly Smooth


--------------------------





2. (SBU) The Embassy's twenty-nine election observers
reported that organization and management of the voting
process in the field was generally favorable. On voting day,
most polling stations opened on time; political party
poll-watchers were usually present; eligible voter lists were
posted at the great majority of voting centers; and security
personnel were on-site at most centers.



3. (U) Elections took place in relative calm, although
several incidents of violence, ballot-stuffing and
ballot-stealing were reported in the Center and Artibonite
Departments. Haitian National Police authorities told the
press on April 23 that eighty-six people had been arrested
for electoral fraud, possession of arms, or public disorder.
Only three arrests out of this total were made in the Center
Department, where the CEP suspended elections for the entire
department after an electoral worker was shot in Mirebalais
and unknown perpetrators stole ballot boxes in some voting
centers (reftel).



4. (U) MINUSTAH authorities in an April 21 press statement
spoke favorably of the election's organization and
congratulated Haitians on exercising their civil liberties.
MINUSTAH called for the apprehension and prosecution of those
involved in election day violence. A MINUSTAH spokeswoman on
April 23 stated that April 19 had been the least violent
election day in Haiti for a long time.

Low Voter Turn-Out: The Threat of Violence or No Transport?


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. (U) Haitians did not turn out to vote in large numbers for
Senate elections. Initial indications are that national
turnout was ten percent or less, and even lower in the West
Department, which includes the capital. Embassy concurs with
press commentary and the observation of some Senators that
the low turn-out resulted from the election day prohibition
of public transportation, delays and confusion surrounding
the final voting center list and associated lists of voters,
as well as thinly-veiled intimidation by the election boycott
campaign of Fanmis Lavalas. The latter included anonymous
leaflets left in many districts, especially in the capital,
warning people that persons trying to vote would meet with
violence.



6. (C) Former Senator and current West Department Senate
Candidate Evelyn Cheron of the Movement to Establish
Democracy in Haiti/MIDH, a small party whose members are
former Fanmi Lavalas partisans, thought the intimidation
factor was paramount. She told Poloffs on April 23 that the
threat of violence kept most voters in the Port-au-Prince
area from going to the polls. Cheron, whose support base
includes Cite Soleil, said residents were threatened with
harm if they voted. She called rival Lespwa candidate (and
also a former Lavalas partisan) Joel Joseph John
''unscrupulous'' and said he, too, was responsible for such
threats. MINUSTAH argued that the lack of transportation was
the primary reason for the low turnout. Prime Minister
Michelle Pierre-Louis said she, too, believed low voter
turnout was due to the lack of transportation. (Comment:
Port-au-Prince residents rarely vote higher than 4-6 percent

PORT AU PR 00000431 002 OF 002


in local elections. End comment)



7. (SBU) Pierre-Louis Opont, CEP Director General, told
Poloff April 23 that the CEP would release final results
April 27. He defended the CEP's decision to prohibit public
transport on election day, arguing that the CEP feared gangs
and other miscreants would follow through on threats to
disrupt voting. Prohibiting public transport allowed
security forces to better monitor the movement of people and
vehicles and deter violence. If Port-au-Prince had
''exploded'' in violence, it would have been nearly
impossible to secure the integrity of the voting process,
even in areas far removed from the capital. While Opont
firmly defended that decision, he told Poloff that the CEP
plans to permit public transportation for the June 7 run-off
elections. He wondered what the critics would then say if
''violence breaks out in Port-au-Prince.''

Several Candidates Declare Victory as Tabulation Continues


--------------------------



--------------------------





8. (C) Although official results are not yet available, a
number of candidates have already declared victory, a
time-honored Haitian tactic designed to mobilize supporters
and intimidate opponents and elections authorities, and set
the stage for claims of fraud if results don't go the
candidate's way. Lavalas militant turned Lespwa candidate,
Joel Joseph John (West), was one of the first to do so.
(Note: West Candidate Evelyn Cheron told Poloffs April 23
that a ''friend'' at the Voting Tabulation Center told her
she was ahead of John -- a subtle hint that if she does not
win, fraud was involved. End note)



9. (SBU) In Aquin (South), partisans of Marie Danielle Comeau
(Konba) brandished sticks, threw rocks, and stopped traffic
April 21, according to press reports, as they proclaimed
their candidate victorious. Former Deputy Franky Exeus (now
Lespwa, but also a former Lavalasian) claimed victory in the
same department, telling Poloff April 21 that voting in the
South was largely free from irregularities. These
candidates, along with a half-dozen others who have declared
themselves victorious or at least through to the second
round, seem to be counting on their positive message to keep
their supporters mobilized during the 6-week period between
the two rounds of voting.



10. (C) As of 0800 local time April 24, the Voter Tabulation
Center had received and processed 96 percent of the polling
place vote tallies (proces verbaux), according to OAS
election specialist Roly Davila. There were unspecified
inconsistencies in the tabulation of vote tallies for the
Artibonite Department, but Davila provided no details. He
said the CEP would make the final decision regarding the
results in the Artibonite by COB April 24.

Senators threaten to Block Recognition of Results


--------------------------



--------------------------





11. (SBU) In a sign of possible future trouble, two Senators
recently signaled that they are canvassing colleagues to
block the recognition of the election results in the Senate.
Senator Evaliere Beauplan (PONT, Northwest) threatened April
22 to block the seating of the Senators who emerge victorious
in the elections, saying turnout was so low ''there were no
elections April 19,'' and calling the April 19 voting a
''masquerade.'' Senator Fritz Carlos Lebon (Union, South)
made similar comments, citing the CEP's ''poor'' handling of
the elections and the decision to prohibit public
transportation as diminishing the legitimacy of the results.
Senators Rudy Heriveaux (Fanmi Lavalas, West) and Yvon
Buissereth (Fanmi Lavalas, South) have already threatened to
use the Senate's internal rules to block the accession of new
Senators in order to protest their party's exclusion from the
April 19 balloting. Lavalas supporters claim that the rules
-- combined with the twelve vacant seats in the Senate --
permit any coalition of three Senators to prevent the
election results from being recognized.
SANDERSON